Word of the Day : January 31, 2011


noun HOOD-lum


1 : thug; especially : a violent criminal

2 : a young ruffian

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.


The shaken man tried his best to give the police an accurate physical description of the hoodlum who mugged him in the parking lot.

"In the good old days, the bowling alley was a place for teenage punks to gather outside, smoke and fight…. These days, the bowling alley is a smoke-free family place, and instead of hoodlums in leather jackets you'll find groups such as the Koffee Kup bowling league…." -- From an article by Roy Bragg in The San Antonio Express-News, December 20, 2010

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "guttural," our featured word from January 13, 2011? The answer is ...


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