a violent person, especially a criminal a gang of thugs He was beaten up by a gang of thugs. A gang of thugs had attacked him with sticks. See related entries: Criminals Word Origin early 19th cent. (originally referring to a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India): from Hindi ṭhag
‘swindler, thief’, based on Sanskrit sthagati ‘he covers or conceals’. The current sense arose in the mid 19th cent.