One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘people kissed and hugged each other’
embrace, cuddle, squeeze, clasp, clutch, cling to, hold someone close, hold someone tight, take someone in one's arms, enfold someone in one's arms, clasp someone to one's bosom, press someone to one's bosom
2‘I headed north, hugging the coastline all the way’
keep close to, stay near to, follow closely, follow the course of
keep away from
3‘we hugged the comforting thought that we were safe from foreign foes’
cling to, hold on to, cherish, harbour, nurture, nurse, foster, retain, maintain, keep in one's mind
1‘there were hugs and tears as they were reunited’
embrace, cuddle, squeeze, bear hug, hold, clasp, clutch, clinch, caress
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