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A show of 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

touch (one's) forelock

To show excessive deference toward someone in a superior position. An allusion to the former act of pulling one's frontmost hair in lieu of having a hat to tip. I hate being in meetings with the CEO because then I have to witness all of the regional managers touching their forelocks like fawning sycophants.
See also: forelock, touch

tug (one's) forelock

To show excessive deference toward someone in a superior position. An allusion to the former act of pulling one's frontmost hair in lieu of having a hat to tip. I hate being in meetings with the CEO because then I have to witness all of the regional managers tugging their forelocks like fawning sycophants.
See also: forelock, tug

tug of love

1. A dispute over custody of a child or children following the divorce or separation of two parents. An ironic play on the phrase "tug of war." Sometimes hyphenated. The divorce itself didn't bother me at all, but the tug of love over my three-year-old nearly destroyed my spirit.
2. By extension, a dispute or contest regarding the right of possession of someone or something. Sometimes hyphenated. Due to the company's international status, there is a bit of a tug-of-love at the moment between several countries over who can lay claim to its huge overdue tax bill.
See also: love, of, 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 ?
However, delay in acquiring tugs would badly hurt KPT which is already short of tugs.
These Damen tugs were selected for their high performance and short delivery time and will fit perfectly into our European harbour towage operations, especially given their commonality with the tugs we are currently operating," he said.
The lack of a second tug based in the Western Isles, after it was cut by the Tories in 2012, is cited as one of the factors that led to the 17,000-ton Transocean Winner oil rig being washed ashore on Lewis last week.
com)-- TNA Aviation Technologies today announced the release of the newly re-designed ROTV product line, the world's most advanced remote operated aircraft tug model line-up, that combines the best in functionality, practicability and technology features to provide users the next level of unmatched quality and value.
5 tonne bollard pull ahead, the Damen ASD Tug 2411 will be deployed at Port Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates.
The company's fleet includes several tractor and conventional tugs as well flat deck barges with and without ramps.
NSW currently operates over 30 vessels and performs 12,500 tug jobs per year.
Terry Railing head of battery-powered tug maker, Aero Tow, told us that he was surprised when he went to a purely electric line of tugs and his sales took off among women and in Alaska.
The article focuses on the situation of work methods for tugs in ports, discusses a theoretical basis for calculating tug bollard pull, examines experimental and testing results and provides conclusions.
He then had spells on tugs in the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and the Caspian Sea and is now a lecturer in nautical studies at South Tyneside College.
In their heyday canal tugs would haul trains of up to six boats laden with coal for the furnaces and other payloads of up to 25 tons each.
The ship carrying the two tugs (al-Fayhaa) and (al-Eishar) left Malaysia on Thursday (April 15) heading for Basra to start working for Iraqi oil ports," Anmar al-Safi told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
A picture called Tugs Off New Brighton in the Art & The Sea gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum was painted by an unknown Liverpool artist.
You should be able to find a good sturdy tug toy in the $5 to $25 range, depending on your dog's size and how energetically he tugs.
Specialist food distribution company Fowler Welch Coolchain is seeing an increase in operating hours and less tyre-related breakdowns after switching to a Michelin X-Terminal T tyre policy for its fleet of Terberg tugs.