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[hood-luh m, hoo d-] /ˈhud ləm, ˈhʊd-/
a thug or gangster.
a young street ruffian, especially one belonging to a gang.
dialectal German
1870-75, Americanism; probably < dialectal German; compare Swabian derivatives of Hudel rag, e.g. hudelum disorderly, hudellam weak, slack Hudellump(e) rags, slovenly, careless person, and related words in other dialects
Related forms
hoodlumish, adjective
hoodlumism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for hoodlum
  • When romance and sentiment take over, the story of the hoodlum is done.
  • But what the hoodlum thought was the restaurant's earnings for the day turned out to be dough in the literal sense.
  • Before that, their ad was of a squalid little shaven headed hoodlum staring into the camera and making bald threats.
  • Once he smashes a hoodlum's hand in the door of an automobile.
  • They bruit scandal, and a hoodlum hits her on the head with a piece of load.
  • Behind a locked door the hoodlum is not at home, unless there be a jailor in place of a janitor to guard it.
  • Despite his reputation as a hoodlum and his history of gratuitous violence, he had no trouble getting a casino license.
British Dictionary definitions for hoodlum


a petty gangster or ruffian
a lawless youth
Derived Forms
hoodlumism, noun
Word Origin
C19: perhaps from Southern German dialect Haderlump ragged good-for-nothing
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 hoodlum
1871, Amer.Eng. (first in ref. to San Francisco) "young street rowdy, loafer," later (1877) "young criminal, gangster," of unknown origin, though newspapers have printed myriad stories concocted to account for it. A guess perhaps better than average is that it is from Ger. dial. (Bavarian) Huddellump "ragamuffin."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hoodlum



A petty criminal; a street tough

[1868+; origin unknown, although many suggestions have been made; the term appears to have originated in San Francisco]

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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