- a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
- (sometimes initial capital letter) one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims.
Origin of thug
Examples from the Web for thugs
Survivors of the incident report that the police and thugs attacked the students three times.Anatomy of a Mexican Student Massacre
October 8, 2014
Thugs attack pro-democracy demonstrators paralyzing parts of Hong Kong.Hong Kong’s Triads Attack Protestors
October 4, 2014
I want everything I ever believed to mean something and all the psychopaths, monsters and thugs of the world to know this.Thank Goodness We’ve Got A Plan! Let the War Begin!
September 14, 2014
But the thugs are numerous enough to be part of the warp and woof of the community.
The thugs, remember, are numerous; they are one of the local norms, sad to say.
Ned buzzed by, picked up two of the thugs, and hauled them off to the cells.Arm of the Law
I have to browbeat, bribe, blackmail and bulldoze you thugs into doing a simple job.The Repairman
The thugs lay in wait for the men with pokes from the "inside."The Trail of '98
Robert W. Service
Murdoch remained outside, and one of the thugs reached for him.Police Your Planet
Lester del Rey
This place had formerly been noted for the thieves and thugs that infested it.Life and Work in Benares and Kumaon, 1839-1877
- a tough and violent man, esp a criminal
- (sometimes capital) (formerly) a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India who typically strangled their victims
Word Origin and History for thugs
1810, "member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims," from Marathi thag, thak "cheat, swindler," Hindi thag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," possibly from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE root *(s)teg- "cover" (see stegosaurus). Transferred sense of "ruffian, cutthroat" first recorded 1839. The more correct Indian name is phanseegur, and the activity was described in English as far back as c.1665. Rigorously prosecuted by the British from 1831, they were driven from existence, but the process extended over the rest of the 19c.