- 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
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