Student Dictionary

One entry found for thug.
Main Entry: thug
Pronunciation: primarystressthschwag
Function: noun
Etymology: from Hindi and Urdu thag, literally "thief," derived from Sanskrit sthagati "he covers up, he hides"
: RUFFIAN
Word History Thug was the name given by the British in India in the 19th century to a member of a band of thieves and murderers. A thug would pretend to be friendly with a traveler and offer to share a journey. Then as soon as it was safe to do so, the thug would strangle and rob his companion. The word thug comes from thag, a word in the Indian language Hindi meaning one of these robbers. The Hindi word in turn came from sthagati, a word in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit meaning "he covers up, he hides." Since thugs made travel dangerous, the British government rounded up most of them, and in a few years they were no longer a threat. The word thug, however, has lasted till today and even taken on the broader meaning of "ruffian."

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