To tug is to forcefully pull or drag something. You might need your sister's help to tug your knee-high boots off at the end of a long day.

A child might tug at his parent's arm and a commuter might tug a rolling suitcase behind her as she enters a subway car. Something else that tugs is a tugboat — and tug is a common nickname for these boats that are designed to pull (or push) other vessels. Tug and tow share the same root word meaning "to pull" or "to lead."

Definitions of tug

v pull hard

“The prisoner tugged at the chains”
“This movie tugs at the heart strings”
Type of:
attract, draw, draw in, pull, pull in
direct toward itself or oneself by means of some psychological power or physical attributes

v pull or strain hard at

“Each oar was tugged by several men”
Type of:
draw, force, pull
cause to move by pulling

v move by pulling hard

“The horse finally tugged the cart out of the mud”
Type of:
displace, move
cause to move or shift into a new position or place, both in a concrete and in an abstract sense

v tow (a vessel) with a tug

“The tugboat tugged the freighter into the harbor”
Type of:
drag behind

v carry with difficulty

lug, tote
Type of:
carry, transport
move while supporting, either in a vehicle or in one's hands or on one's body

v strive and make an effort to reach a goal

“She tugged for years to make a decent living”
drive, labor, labour, push
bear on, push
press, drive, or impel (someone) to action or completion of an action
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reach, strain, strive
to exert much effort or energy
extend oneself
strain to the utmost
kill oneself, overexert oneself
strain oneself more than is healthy
bother, inconvenience oneself, trouble, trouble oneself
take the trouble to do something; concern oneself
Type of:
fight, struggle
make a strenuous or labored effort

v struggle in opposition

“She tugged and wrestled with her conflicts”
Type of:
contend, fight, struggle
be engaged in a fight; carry on a fight

n a sudden abrupt pull

Type of:
pull, pulling
the act of pulling; applying force to move something toward or with you

n a powerful small boat designed to pull or push larger ships

towboat, tower, tugboat
Type of:
a small vessel for travel on water

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