from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A cutthroat or ruffian; a hoodlum.
  • noun One of a group of professional criminals, devotees of Kali, who robbed and murdered travelers in northern India until the mid-1800s.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A member of a confraternity of professional assassins and robbers formerly infesting India, chiefly in the central and northern provinces.
  • noun Hence A cutthroat; a ruffian; a rough.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun An assassin; a ruffian; a rough.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A criminal with intimidating mannerisms, who treats others violently and roughly, especially for hire.
  • noun dated One of a band of assassins formerly active in northern India who worshipped Kali and offered their victims to her.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an aggressive and violent young criminal


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Hindi ṭhag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthagaḥ, a cheat, from sthagati, sthagayati, he conceals; see (s)teg- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word thug.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Gunplay will be graphic if I do the thug

    February 17, 2007