Definition of hoodlum in English:



  • A person who engages in crime and violence; a hooligan or gangster:

    ‘they were the ‘professional’ gangsters of New York, hoodlums and racketeers’
    ‘a bunch of hoodlums just looking for trouble’
    • ‘One particularly edgy sequence involves the hijacking of a transit bus by a young hoodlum, who's then frustrated by the unwillingness of his hostages to express themselves honestly to him.’
    • ‘When he talks of cracking down on the hoodlums and thugs who make life miserable on Britain's poorest estates, people listen because they suspect he knows whereof he speaks.’
    • ‘Instead the tabloids were full of stories about gangs of hoodlums running out of control, terrorising vulnerable people.’
    • ‘A pair of London hoodlums, rejected by the established criminal set, execute a spate of robberies, which finally results in the death of a policeman.’
    • ‘But the most horrific incident of this sort in the novel occurs when Lorraine is raped by C. C. Baker and his gang of hoodlums.’
    • ‘But this was the work of a handful of hoodlums, terrorists or just plain criminals.’
    • ‘Not content to leave it at that, the gang of hoodlums chased after the drunken trio.’
    • ‘Off-licences selling alcohol to underage drinkers could be targeted as tough tactics are adopted to stop teenage hoodlums terrorising a town.’
    • ‘First of all a fearless, infallible hero pitted against a bunch of hoodlums and brutal, power-crazy politicians is too stereotypical for words.’
    • ‘The gist is this: there's a small Scottish town plagued with young hoodlums whose violence is getting out of hand.’
    • ‘Suddenly a gang of young hoodlums enters, led by a thug named Frankie McCarthy.’
    • ‘The hoodlums reportedly beat Palestinian villagers and vandalised their property.’
    • ‘Doesn't such an attitude encourage hoodlums to commit such crimes again and again?’
    • ‘The aim is to reduce the number of criminals who prey on tourists and get young hoodlums off the streets.’
    • ‘He was a gangster, a hoodlum, a thug: much less creative than his dad.’
    • ‘Over time, Taylor begins to enjoy life as a car-jacking hoodlum.’
    • ‘Here was a young man who had left his middle-class home to fight alongside labourers, professors, artists and hoodlums.’
    • ‘In fact, many people believe gangsters and hoodlums are vicious and violent by nature.’
    • ‘Then they saw thugs and hoodlums taking over the streets.’
    • ‘So you mean to tell me that those hoodlums are free to go after what they have been doing to my son?’
    gangster, gang member, mobster, criminal, gunman, thug, racketeer, ruffian, member of a criminal gang, member of the mafia, mafioso, yardie
    hooligan, thug, lout, delinquent, tearaway, vandal, ruffian, rowdy
    View synonyms


Late 19th century: of unknown origin.