I have an uncle who is huge and any time he hugs anyone in the family, it's so tight that they are almost choked. We call this the bearhug among the family.

Researching the term, and seeing its origins in wrestling

a wrestling hold in which the arms are locked tightly round an opponent's chest and arms

My question is on this definition

any especially large, tight or enthusiastic hug, usually friendly

Does the large here imply the hugging person is bigger and stronger than the hug-ee (like a bear) or is it the length of time of the hug, or something else?

Does the usage give the impression of Hagrid from Harry Potter? It does to me, but I don't know if thats the right idea.

  • 54
    This isn't really a question about English so much as a question about hugs.
    – Jon Purdy
    Jul 7, 2011 at 5:45
  • 1
    @Jon: I've added as much context to make it a question about the approriate usage of bearhug. Does it apply if both people are tiny or same-sized?
    – JoseK
    Jul 7, 2011 at 5:47
  • 14
    @Jon: Should have been asked on Hugs.SE. Voting to migrate... ;)
    – Daniel
    Sep 10, 2011 at 0:36
  • 2
    @drm: I did flag the mods to delete this as off-topic - but they've chosen to leave it here. Oh the humiliation :)
    – JoseK
    Sep 12, 2011 at 10:12

2 Answers 2


It implies they are larger than you, but "enthusiastic" can imply the length of time. The hugger doesn't necessarily have to be bear-like, but it definitely helps.

  • I'd say enthusiastic is accurate enough, and it could imply length of time, but there are so many other things that can go along with an "enthusiastic" hug, including general body posture, facial expressions, words and tones used, the precise position of arms (perhaps pinning someone's arms, not out of threat, but rather more like saying to the person, "I'm so enthusiastic, I'm going to give you a hug whether you want one or not"), and a few others... Jun 25, 2014 at 11:42

"Large hug" here is the same as in "big hug". "Big" has the meaning of "enthusiastic", so, a "large hug" is an enthusiastic hug.

(informal, with on) Enthusiastic

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