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"
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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