From Hindi  (thuggee) (or ठग्गी (tuggee)) < Marathi  (thag, thief),  (thak, swindler) < Sanskritस्थग (sthaga, cunning, fraudulent) < 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.



thug (plural thugs)

  1. criminal who treats others violently and roughly, especially for hire.
  2. (dated) One of a band of assassins formerly active in northern India who worshipped Kali and offered their victims to her.