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[hoo-li-guh n] /ˈhu lɪ gən/
a ruffian or hoodlum.
of or like hooligans.
Origin of hooligan
First recorded in 1895-1900; perhaps after the Irish surname Hooligan, but corroborating evidence is lacking
Related forms
hooliganism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for hooliganism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They were aggravated, moreover, by an outbreak of hooliganism, which became a serious nuisance in 1881.

  • The burning cars were laid to hooliganism on the part of the bystanders.

    The Double Spy Dan T. Moore
  • The main safeguard against lawlessness and hooliganism in any armed body is the integrity of its officers.

    The Armed Forces Officer U. S. Department of Defense
  • D-don't think you're going to introduce your hooliganism here.

    Tell England Ernest Raymond
  • We do not want further prejudice raised against us by attempts to connect us with anarchical violence, hooliganism and looting.

  • Idleness, hooliganism and repeated imprisonments for petty crime, until something more serious happens, and then longer sentences.

    London's Underworld Thomas Holmes
British Dictionary definitions for hooliganism


(slang) a rough lawless young person
Derived Forms
hooliganism, noun
Word Origin
C19: perhaps variant of Houlihan, Irish surname
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hooliganism

1898, from hooligan + -ism.



1890s, of unknown origin, first found in British newspaper police-court reports in the summer of 1898, almost certainly from the variant form of the Irish surname Houlihan, which figured as a characteristic comic Irish name in music hall songs and newspapers of the 1880s and '90s.

As an "inventor" and adapter to general purposes of the tools used by navvies and hodmen, "Hooligan" is an Irish character who occupies week by week the front of a comic literary journal called Nuggets, one of the series of papers published by Mr. James Henderson at Red Lion House. Previous to publication in London, "Hooligan" appears, I believe, in New York in a comic weekly, and in London he is set off against "Schneider," a German, whose contrainventions and adaptations appear in the Garland (a very similar paper to Nuggets), which also comes from Mr. Henderson's office. "Hooligan" and "Schneider" have been running, I should think, for four or five years. ["Notes and Queries," Oct. 15, 1898]
Internationalized 20c. in communist rhetoric as Russian khuligan, opprobrium for "scofflaws, political dissenters, etc."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hooliganism



  1. ruffian; street tough; goon, hoodlum: Beat me up with your hooligans (1898+)
  2. gun
  3. The Wild West tent of a circus or show (1940s+ Circus)

[origin unknown; perhaps fr a rowdy Irish family named Hooligan of Southwark, London, England; perhaps fr Irish Uillega´n, a nickname for William, with confusion by Americans over vocative ''Oh, Willie,'' spread to all Irishmen; circus sense perhaps related to Western hoolian or hooley-ann or hoolihan, ''throw a steer by leaping on its horns, bulldog''; all senses perhaps related to Irish hooley, ''noisy party, carousal'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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