In the wake of recent riots in US cities we have heard the word "thug" tossed around a lot but what image does the word conjure up? Rioters, hiphop artists, bullies, Thug Kitchen?
Thugs were actually a secret cult of murderers roaming India as far back as the 1350s. They took their name from from the Hindi "thuggee" or "tuggee". At its root it means deceiver, thief or swindler. The Thugs in India were a gang of professional thieves and assassins who operated from the 14th century through the 19th and killed as many as 2 million victims. Posing as pilgrims, merchants, soldiers or even royalty they would befriend fellow travelers, gain their trust and then murder them, usually by strangulation and abscond with their valuables.
The British managed to eradicate the murderous cult during the colonial period but the word "thug" entered the English lexicon and has taken on the connotation of "gangster".
Full story: CityLab