palooka was our Word of the Day on 05/11/2016. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Examples of palooka in a Sentence
I wish he wouldn't bring over here that bunch of palookas he calls his friends.
Recent Examples of palooka from the Web
Without it, director Phillipe Falardeau's film would be a fairly unremarkable, fairly familiar ride, telling the tale of a big-hearted but undisciplined palooka whose biggest hurdle in life is his own bad judgment.
The jokes (by screenwriters Van Robichaux and Evan Susser) have all the wit of a punch-drunk palooka.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'palooka.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The Mysterious Origin of palooka
The origin of palooka is unknown, though various theories have been put forth. (Some sources credit the baseball player and sportswriter Jack Conway with the coinage, for example.) Palooka first appeared in print in 1920 and may have been popularized by a comic strip titled "Joe Palooka" (by Ham Fisher), which debuted in newspapers a decade later. The probable connection between Fisher's comic and palooka only adds to the mystery surrounding this term, however. Joe Palooka was a boxer who was neither incompetent nor clumsy and oafish, and yet the word palooka came to have those negative meanings. In addition, palooka has been used as a general synonym for rookie and also as a term describing horses with very little chance of winning.
Origin and Etymology of palooka
First Known Use: 1920See Words from the same year
Synonymsclod, clodhopper, gawk, hulk, lout, lubber, lug, lump, Neanderthal, oaf
Related Wordschump, loser, schlemiel (also shlemiel), turkey; slouch; airhead, birdbrain, blockhead, blunderer, bonehead, bubblehead, chowderhead, chucklehead, clodpoll (or clodpole), clot [British], cluck, clunk, cuddy (or cuddie) [British dialect], deadhead, dim bulb [slang], dimwit, dip, dodo, dolt, donkey, doofus [slang], dope, dork [slang], dullard, dumbbell, dumbhead, dum-dum, dummkopf, dummy, dunce, dunderhead, fathead, galoot [slang], gander, golem, goof, goon, half-wit, hammerhead, hardhead, idiot, ignoramus, imbecile, jackass, know-nothing, knucklehead, lamebrain, loggerhead [chiefly dialect], loon, lump, lunkhead, meathead, mome [archaic], moron, mug [chiefly British], mutt, natural, nimrod [slang], nincompoop, ninny, ninnyhammer, nit [chiefly British], nitwit, noddy, noodle, numskull (or numbskull), pinhead, prat [British], ratbag [chiefly Australian], saphead, schlub (also shlub) [slang], schnook [slang], simp, simpleton, stock, stupe, stupid, thickhead, turkey, woodenhead, yahoo, yo-yo; anthropoid, ape, beast, boor, brute, cad, churl, clown, creep, cretin, cur, heel, louse, skunk, snake, stinker, tyke (also tike) [chiefly British], villain; booby, fool, goose, loony (also looney), lunatic, madman, nut; featherbrain, scatterbrain; rascal, rogue, scamp
Near Antonymsbrain, brainiac, egghead, genius, intellectual, sage, thinker, whiz, wizard
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up palooka? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).