goon squad

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goon squad (plural goon squads)

  1. (chiefly US, informal, derogatory, idiomatic) A group of individuals serving as enforcers, bodyguards, and the like, especially persons hired for such a purpose and using violent, thuggish methods.
    • 1938, Russell B. Porter, "Unionists Battle Store Employes in San Francisco," New York Times, 9 Sep., p. 9:
      He denied charges that the union was using "goon squads," as strong-arm detachments are called on the West Coast, and asserted that any violence was provoked by the employers.
    • 1974, "Shooting the Moon," Time, 17 Jun.:
      No one has ever accused Uganda's mercurial President Idi ("Big Daddy") Amin Dada of running a democracy. . . . In Kampala, the capital, much of the terror is committed by Big Daddy's personal goon squad, the 3,000-man Public Safety Unit.
    • 2003, Michael Upchurch, "What's Cooking on Mindanao?" (Review of Dream Jungle by Jessica Hagedorn), New York Times, 5 Oct., p. A13:
      But becoming the "Spirit Father" to a group of cave dwellers threatened by "bandits, insurgent guerrillas" and "goon squads hired by greedy logging companies" gives him a newfound purpose in life.


  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.