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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 of war

1. A game in which two or more people pull on either ends of a rope with the goal of causing its center point to cross over to their side. Our company has a massive annual tug of war match each year, sometimes with as many as 50 people pulling on each side!
2. Any instance in which two or more people or animals pull vigorously on either ends of something. It's always a tug of war between me and the dog for the newspaper each morning. The kids started off sharing the bicycle very nicely, but it devolved into a tug of war about 30 minutes later.
3. Any situation in which two or more people or groups engage in a struggle for control or supremacy. Control over Congress has been a tug of war over the last decade, with either party regaining and losing control in each subsequent election cycle. I don't want a game of tug of war between us for custody of the children, so let's please just share it equally.
See also: of, tug, war

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 ?
The builder of Ports of Auckland's tug is the Dutch company, Damen.
New Zealand's Ports of Auckland recently signed a contract with the Damen Shipyards Group for the delivery of a RSD-E Tug 2513.
The reduced noise and vibration levels exhibited by the RSD Tug 2513 was another deciding factor, because we really care about the comfort of our crews.
MISKI moored at harbour was also timely assisted by tug boats which helped in securing back to its position.
Merseyside Maritime Museum is the only British museum to have a sea-going vessel in its collection - the motor tug Brocklebank, dating from 1964.
They include tugs towing lines of fishing smacks with sails out to sea on windless days and well-known ships of the past such as the Leda and Venus which operated the Tyne-Norway run.
These sources further said the KPT invited bids under Clause 36(b) of PPRA-2204 (amended) for the provision of two berthing tugs on hiring basis/chartering, therefore, PNSC fully met these conditions.
The chief guest in his address said that construction of 32 Tons BP Tug highlighted the mission of the Ministry of Defence Production to make Pakistan self reliance in shipbuilding.
Augustine, FL, May 12, 2016 --(PR.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.
The Sharjah Port and Customs Authority is a long-term customer of Damen and already has eight Damen Stan Tugs and a recently delivered Damen pilot boat in its fleet.
With six barges, four tugs, and three landing crafts, 85 percent of the company's business and revenue comes from marine fuel delivery.
Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar (NDSQ) has delivered two new Qatari-built mooring tugs to towage operator Nakilat SvitzerWijsmuller (NSW).
CONTRACT FOR TUGS. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on Oct 3 said Spain's Astilleros Armon has won a $158 million contract for construction of 14 tugs, which are being acquired to "increase the current fleet to meet the projected growth of transits through the waterway.t It adds: "The contract was awarded to the company offering the best value proposal where the price had a weighting of 35% and the technical proposal, 65% .