hoo·​li·​gan ˈhü-li-gən How to pronounce hooligan (audio)
plural hooligans
: a usually young man who engages in rowdy or violent behavior especially as part of a group or gang : ruffian, hoodlum
We had four great beefy hooligans on to us when Linton got his tooth knocked out.P. G. Wodehouse
"At school I ran with the hooligans and tried to act tough."John Keen
More recently the tabloid press dubbed English football hooligans "lager louts" as if it was the fizzy beer that was the problem rather than that many supporters were more interested in fighting than football.Henry Jeffreys

Examples of hooligan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That monster was the 1290 Super Duke R powered by a 1,301 cc V-twin—a naked motorcycle designed for the hooligan in all of us. Peter Jackson, Robb Report, 1 Mar. 2024 The response by a functionary was widely thought of as absurdly anachronistic: A scene in which hooligans stone to death a baby in a pram could not be publicly staged. Benedict Nightingale, New York Times, 6 Mar. 2024 Sure, there were the local drunks, the teenage hooligans who tortured stray cats, but even these wayward bees had a place in the hive. Alexander Nazaryan, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2024 What occurred on Saturday, ahead of Remembrance Day, was that right-wing protesters and soccer hooligans clashed with the Metropolitan Police at the Cenotaph in London, where Remembrance Day is observed. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 13 Nov. 2023 Israeli media reports attributed the disturbance to a high-profile group of soccer hooligans, but NBC News has not verified the reports. Matteo Moschella, NBC News, 12 Oct. 2023 As McCarthy’s untamed hooligans steer the ship of state toward the chop, Democrats would be wise to stick with this instinct. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 4 Nov. 2023 In their place is Rally, which sits at the tail-out hooligan end of the spectrum, atop Strada (street), Sport, and Corsa (track). Dan Edmunds, Car and Driver, 1 May 2023 The Britons here are not the hooligans who occasionally get blanket bans from foreign cities hosting U.K. soccer teams for fear of violent clashes. David Segal, New York Times, 20 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hooligan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


perhaps from Patrick Hooligan who flourished in 1896 as an Irish hoodlum in Southwark, London

First Known Use

1896, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hooligan was in 1896

Dictionary Entries Near hooligan

Cite this Entry

“Hooligan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hooligan. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


hoo·​li·​gan ˈhü-li-gən How to pronounce hooligan (audio)

perhaps from the name of Patrick Hooligan, an Irish hoodlum who lived in London around 1898

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