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[hoo-li-guh n] /ˈhu lɪ gən/
a ruffian or hoodlum.
of or like hooligans.
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. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for hooligan


(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 hooligan
1890s, of unknown origin, first found in British newspaper police-court reports in the summer of 1898, almost certainly from the surname Houlihan, supposedly from a lively family of that name in London (who figured in music hall songs of the decade). Internationalized 20c. in communist rhetoric as Rus. khuligan, opprobrium for "scofflaws, political dissenters, etc."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hooligan


  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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