First attested in a December 1866 Daily Alta California article, which mentions "the 'Hoodlum Gang' of juvenile thieves". Several possible origins have been proposed. It may derive from a Germanic word like Swabian hudelum (“disorderly”) or Bavarian Haderlump (“ragamuffin”).
Herbert Asbury's book The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld (1933, A. A. Knopf, New York) says the word originated in San Francisco from a particular street gang's call to unemployed Irishmen to "huddle 'em" (to beat up Chinese migrants), after which San Francisco newspapers took to calling street gangs "hoodlums".
hoodlum (plural hoodlums)
- A nonstandard, jocular plural hoodla (treating the word like a Latin noun) also exists.
- “hoodlum” in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary.
- ^ Daily Alta California, December 15, 1866: "a dealerf in second-hand clothing [...] was arrested, yesterday [...] on the charges of receiving stolen goods from the "Hoodlum Gang" of juvenile thieves"
- ^ “hoodlum” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
- ^ “hoodlum” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.
- “Frederick Bee History Project”, in (Please provide the title of the work), accessed October 4, 2014