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Showing excessive deference toward someone in a superior position. I hate being in meetings with the CEO because then I have to witness all of the managers' forelock-tugging.

tear/tug/pull at/on (one's)/the heartstrings

To elicit strong feelings of sympathy or fondness. I don't know why, but that piece of music always tears at my heartstrings. That documentary really pulls on the heartstrings—you'll want to adopt all of those kids after watching it.
See also: heartstring, on, pull, tear, tug

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.
See also: away, tug

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.
See also: of, tug, war

tug your forelock

If someone tugs their forelock, they show a lot of respect to someone in a high social position. I don't know how you can stand bowing and scraping and tugging your forelock to all those rich old crones. Note: You can also say that someone touches their forelock. A lot of people seem to think we're supposed to go round touching our forelock and scraping our heads against the floor. We're not. Note: You can refer to this kind of behaviour as forelock-tugging or forelock-touching. The idea of forelock-tugging is totally alien to us, as is the idea that some people are born to rule. Note: These expressions are used to show that the speaker thinks that too much respect is being shown. Note: A forelock is a lock of hair that falls over a person's forehead. In the past, it was customary for lower class people to remove their hats in front of upper class people. If they were not wearing a hat, they touched their forelock instead.
See also: forelock, tug

tug at the heartstrings


tug at your heartstrings

COMMON If someone or something tugs at the heartstrings or tugs at your heartstrings, they cause you to feel pity or sadness. Miss Cookson knows exactly how to tug at readers' heartstrings. Note: You can use verbs such as pull and pluck instead of tug. Unlike many charity campaigns, it doesn't pull at the heartstrings. Note: You can also omit the word at. McLachlan tugs the heartstrings with a succession of ballads. Note: Heartstrings is used in many other structures and expressions with similar meanings. This is not a movie that aims for the heartstrings. Note: In medieval times, it was believed that `heartstrings' were tendons which supported the heart.
See also: heartstring, tug

tug of love

a dispute over the custody of a child. British informal
See also: love, of, tug

touch/tug your ˈforelock

(disapproving) show too much respect for a person of a higher rank or status: This is a democratic country and we don’t want people tugging their forelocks.In the past, people either took off their hats or pulled on their forelocks (= the hair above the forehead) to show respect.
See also: forelock, touch, tug

tug at somebody’s ˈheartstrings

make somebody feel strong emotions of sadness and pity: Advertisers often use babies and children to tug at your heartstrings.
See also: heartstring, tug
References in periodicals archive ?
While these are the first tugs to be built in the USA under Damens Technical Cooperation programme, over 200 Damen vessels have been built under licence in the USA since the mid-1990s.
Our passion and dedication to manufacture top quality aircraft tugs is already well known in many parts of the world," said Werner Zaglauer, Flyer-Truck[R] owner and Chief Executive Officer.
These tugs were specifically designed and built for Cook Inlet mobility in heavy sea ice conditions.
NSW currently operates over 30 vessels and performs 12,500 tug jobs per year.
As these vessels cannot move themselves inside the port basin - because they are too large - the pull tugs push and pull the vessel onto the berth.
The tug has 34 meter overall length with displacement of 481 tons.
Ports use conventional and new tugs equipped with 'Azipod systems' for increasing the maneuverability of ships entering the port and for ships conducting mooring and unmooring operations.
Tug boats from near and far afield made the rare sight as they manoeuvred their way along the canal arm, as part of the biggest event of its kind in the country.
Following retirement from port duties in 1989, the old Liverpool tug Brocklebank now boasts a very special accolade.
The two tugs are scheduled to arrive in early May," he added.
The twin-funnelled tugs, John Bull and Robert Burns, were owned by John Watkins Jnr and were active on the Mersey in the 1850s.
Andy Marchant, Fowler Welch Coolchain Fleet operations manager, said: "It is punishing work as the tugs never stop working, so operating 24/7 in this environment needs a tough long-lasting tyre that also delivers economical operating costs.
He says, however, that he's skeptical that evolution led the bacterium to tug on cell membranes in just the right way to lengthen the cells' survival.
Before we developed our newest product, the Series 2000, we carried out a survey among both the people who use and the people who maintain tugs.
Technologies utilized by TUGs include laser rangefinders, ultrasonic and infrared sensors, and three-dimensional maps.