from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A cutthroat or ruffian; a hoodlum.
- n. One of a band of professional assassins formerly active in northern India who worshiped Kali and offered their victims to her.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A criminal with intimidating mannerisms, who treats others violently and roughly, especially for hire.
- n. One of a band of assassins formerly active in northern India who worshipped Kali and offered their victims to her.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. One of an association of robbers and murderers in India who practiced murder by stealthy approaches, and from religious motives. They have been nearly exterminated by the British government.
- n. An assassin; a ruffian; a rough.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A member of a confraternity of professional assassins and robbers formerly infesting India, chiefly in the central and northern provinces.
- n. Hence A cutthroat; a ruffian; a rough.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. an aggressive and violent young criminal
Hindi ṭhag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthagaḥ, a cheat, from sthagati, sthagayati, he conceals.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Hindi (thuggee) (or ठग्गी (tuggee)), from Marathi (thag, "thief"), (thak, "swindler"), from Sanskrit स्थग (sthaga, "cunning, fraudulent"), from स्थगति (sthagati, "to cover, conceal") Thuggee was an Indian network of secret fraternities who were engaged in murdering and robbing travellers and known for strangling their victims, operating from the 17th century (possibly as early as 13th century) to the 19th century. During British Imperial rule of India, many Indian words passed into common English, and in 1810 thug referred to members of these Indian gangs. The sense was adopted more generally as "ruffian, cutthroat" by 1839. (Wiktionary)