from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A gangster; a thug.
  • n. A tough, often aggressive or violent youth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a gangster; a hired thug
  • n. a rough or violent youth

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A young rowdy; a rough, lawless fellow; colloquially, called also hood.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A young hectoring street rowdy; one of a gang of ruffians; a lounging, good-for-nothing, quarrelsome fellow; a rough.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an aggressive and violent young criminal


Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Attested since 1871. Many sources have been proposed, but none are certain. The Online Etymology Dictionary suggests that it may derive from Bavarian German Haddalump ("ragamuffin"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Interesting!

    March 9, 2009

  • hoodlum started as the name of a gang leader, Muldoon. A reporter reversed it to Noodlum, but the typesetter misread the reporter's handwriting and put it in the paper as "hoodlum".

    April 12, 2008