Etymology
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tug (v.)

c. 1200, from weak grade of Old English teohan "to pull, drag," from Proto-Germanic *teuhan "to pull" (source also of Old High German zucchen "to pull, jerk," German zücken "to draw quickly), from PIE root *deuk- "to lead." Related to tow (v.). Related: Tugged; tugging.

tug (n.)

mid-14c., in reference to some part of a harness;" c. 1500 as "act of pulling or dragging," from tug (v.). Meaning "small, powerful vessel for towing other vessels" is recorded from 1817. Phrase tug of war (1670s) was originally figurative, "the decisive contest, the real struggle," from the noun in the sense "supreme effort, strenuous contest of forces" (1650s). As an actual athletic event, from 1876.

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Definitions of tug
1
tug (v.)
pull hard;
This movie tugs at the heart strings
The prisoner tugged at the chains
tug (v.)
strive and make an effort to reach a goal;
She tugged for years to make a decent living
Synonyms: labor / labour / push / drive
tug (v.)
tow (a vessel) with a tug;
The tugboat tugged the freighter into the harbor
tug (v.)
carry with difficulty;
Synonyms: lug / tote
tug (v.)
move by pulling hard;
The horse finally tugged the cart out of the mud
tug (v.)
pull or strain hard at;
Each oar was tugged by several men
tug (v.)
struggle in opposition;
She tugged and wrestled with her conflicts
2
tug (n.)
a sudden abrupt pull;
Synonyms: jerk
tug (n.)
a powerful small boat designed to pull or push larger ships;
Synonyms: tugboat / towboat / tower
From wordnet.princeton.edu