A worshipper of Kali, who practised _thuggee_, the strangling of human victims in the name of the religion. Robbery of the victim provided the means of livelihood. They were also called _Phansigars_ (Noose operators) from the method employed.
Vigorous suppression was begun by Lord William Bentinck in 1828, but the fraternity did not become completely extinct for another 50 years or so.
In common parlance the word is used for any violent "tough".