- an athlete, especially a boxer, lacking in ability, experience, or competitive spirit.
- a stupid, clumsy person.
Origin of palooka
An Americanism dating back to 1920–25; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- US slang a stupid or clumsy boxer or other person
C20: origin uncertain
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
Word Origin and History for palooka
"mediocre prizefighter," 1926, of unknown origin, credited to U.S. sportswriter and "Variety" staffer Jack Conway (d.1928). Non-boxing sense of "average person" is from Joe Palooka, hero of Ham Fisher's comic strip.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper