hoodlum

noun
hood·​lum | \ ˈhüd-ləm How to pronounce hoodlum (audio) , ˈhu̇d- How to pronounce hoodlum (audio) \

Definition of hoodlum

1 : thug sense 1 especially : a violent criminal
2 : a young ruffian

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Other Words from hoodlum

hoodlumish \ ˈhüd-​lə-​mish How to pronounce hoodlumish (audio) , ˈhu̇d-​ \ adjective
hoodlumism \ ˈhüd-​lə-​ˌmi-​zəm How to pronounce hoodlumism (audio) , ˈhu̇d-​ \ noun

Did You Know?

A hoodlum can be anyone from a dangerous thug to a young person who’s just up to no good. The exact origins of the word are not known, but one theory is that the word derives from hudelum, an adjective that means "disorderly" in dialects of German spoken in and around the region of Swabia. A similar-looking word for a young troublemaker is hooligan, but that word is not related to hoodlum; rather, it most likely derives from the name of Patrick Hooligan, an Irish youth purported to have wreaked havoc in the streets of Southwark, England, in the late 19th century.

Examples of hoodlum in a Sentence

a couple of hoodlums held up the convenience store
Recent Examples on the Web Hernández de Cruceño, however, was new in town, and had the look of a malandro, or hoodlum. Seth Harp, Harper's Magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 27 Apr. 2020 Hernández de Cruceño, however, was new in town, and had the look of a malandro, or hoodlum. Seth Harp, Harper's Magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 27 Apr. 2020 Hernández de Cruceño, however, was new in town, and had the look of a malandro, or hoodlum. Seth Harp, Harper's Magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 27 Apr. 2020 Hernández de Cruceño, however, was new in town, and had the look of a malandro, or hoodlum. Christine Smallwood, Harper's Magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 30 Mar. 2020 Hernández de Cruceño, however, was new in town, and had the look of a malandro, or hoodlum. Christine Smallwood, Harper's Magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 30 Mar. 2020 Hernández de Cruceño, however, was new in town, and had the look of a malandro, or hoodlum. Seth Harp, Harper's magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 2 Mar. 2020 A month before the stabbing, police had banged on Alfred Kiefer’s front door in Southeast Portland, seeking to arrest the 35-year-old hoodlum on extortion charges. oregonlive, "Fun-loving ‘Torchy’ Jessing ‘autographed’ knife she used to stab gangster boyfriend, becoming 1950s Portland celebrity," 3 Dec. 2019 Reams said the cook had a helper, nicknamed a hoodlum, who did the heavy lifting and chores. Vincent T. Davis, ExpressNews.com, "Chuck wagon cook rustles up Old West chow at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo," 15 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hoodlum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hoodlum

1866, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hoodlum

perhaps from German dialect (Swabia) hudelum disorderly

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Time Traveler for hoodlum

Time Traveler

The first known use of hoodlum was in 1866

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Statistics for hoodlum

Last Updated

3 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hoodlum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoodlum. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for hoodlum

hoodlum

noun
How to pronounce hoodlum (audio) How to pronounce hoodlum (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hoodlum

: a tough and violent criminal

hoodlum

noun
hood·​lum | \ ˈhüd-ləm How to pronounce hoodlum (audio) , ˈhu̇d- \

Kids Definition of hoodlum

: a tough and violent criminal : thug

More from Merriam-Webster on hoodlum

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hoodlum

Nglish: Translation of hoodlum for Spanish Speakers

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