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Tug at something vs Tug something

tug at somethingpull hard at smth. such as a rope:

  • Don’t tug at the leash or become impatient…. Your cat will be compelled to cooperate by your calm steadfastness.

tug somethingmove smth. by pulling or dragging forcibly:

  • Navigation is difficult with sand shoals; boatmen wade waist deep for more than an hour tugging the boat.