tug(redirected from tugs)
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tug at someone or something
to pull at someone or something. Stop tugging at me! I'll talk to you in a minute. The dog tugged at my pants cuff.
See also: tug
tug away (at something)
to pull hard at something; to haul something. She tugged away at the rope, but the anchor would not budge. No matter how much she tugged away, it didn't move.
tug at your heartstringsalso pull on your heartstrings
to cause strong feelings of affection or sympathy He looked into his son's smiling eyes and felt a tug on his heartstrings.
Usage notes: sometimes used with other verbs: The stories he told plucked at your heartstrings.
showing too much respect towards someone who is in a high position As the General marched in, the collective forelock-tugging began.
tear/tug at your heartstringsalso tear/tug at the heartstrings
if something or someone tugs at your heartstrings, they make you feel strong love or sympathy It's the story of a lost child - guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings.
tug of war
A struggle for supremacy, as in There's a constant political tug of war between those who favor giving more power to the states and those who want a strong federal government . Although there is an athletic contest also so named, in which participants holding either end of a rope try to pull each other across a dividing line, the present usage, first recorded in 1677, predates it by about two centuries. The noun tug itself means "a strenuous contest between two sides," and war refers to fighting, either physical or figurative.