- a thug or gangster.
- a young street ruffian, especially one belonging to a gang.
Origin of hoodlum
Examples from the Web for hoodlum
A hoodlum crashes a pool party that not-so-bright Cameron throws in spite of the recent bloody death of one of his friends.The Craziest Moments From ‘Ghost Shark’ (VIDEO)
August 23, 2013
Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.The Story Behind Bobby Rush, the Hoodie-Wearing, Trayvon-Supporting Congressman
March 28, 2012
When they came out into the street the hoodlum crowd had dispersed.Ralph on the Overland Express
One hoodlum left the ranks and started off toward the barracks-room.Funny Stories Told By The Soldiers
Carleton B. Case
He knew he was a hoodlum; the trolley conductors had told him that.Tom Slade
Percy K. Fitzhugh
The hoodlum element was there, of course, but it was not the leading element.The Reclaimers
Margaret Hill McCarter
He had been a hoodlum there, and had helped to hang Chinese.White Shadows in the South Seas</p>
- a petty gangster or ruffian
- a lawless youth
Word Origin and History for hoodlum
popularized 1871, American English, (identified throughout the 1870s as "a California word") "young street rowdy, loafer," especially one involved in violence against Chinese immigrants, "young criminal, gangster;" it appears to have been in use locally from a slightly earlier date and may have begun as a specific name of a gang:
The police have recently been investigating the proceedings of a gang of thieving boys who denominate themselves and are known to the world as the Hoodlum Gang. [San Francisco "Golden Era" newspaper, Feb. 16, 1868, p.4]
Of unknown origin, though newspapers of the day printed myriad fanciful stories concocted to account for it. A guess perhaps better than average is that it is from German dialectal (Bavarian) Huddellump "ragamuffin" [Barnhart].
What the derivation of the word "hoodlum" is we could never satisfactorily ascertain, though several derivations have been proposed; and it would appear that the word has not been very many years in use. But, however obscure the word may be, there is nothing mysterious about the thing; .... [Walter M. Fisher, "The Californians," London, 1876]