Definition of hoodlum in US English:



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

    ‘they were the “professional” gangsters of New York, hoodlums and racketeers’
    • ‘Here was a young man who had left his middle-class home to fight alongside labourers, professors, artists and hoodlums.’
    • ‘Doesn't such an attitude encourage hoodlums to commit such crimes again and again?’
    • ‘He was a gangster, a hoodlum, a thug: much less creative than his dad.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The aim is to reduce the number of criminals who prey on tourists and get young hoodlums off the streets.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Not content to leave it at that, the gang of hoodlums chased after the drunken trio.’
    • ‘In fact, many people believe gangsters and hoodlums are vicious and violent by nature.’
    • ‘So you mean to tell me that those hoodlums are free to go after what they have been doing to my son?’
    • ‘Then they saw thugs and hoodlums taking over the streets.’
    • ‘Over time, Taylor begins to enjoy life as a car-jacking hoodlum.’
    • ‘First of all a fearless, infallible hero pitted against a bunch of hoodlums and brutal, power-crazy politicians is too stereotypical for words.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Suddenly a gang of young hoodlums enters, led by a thug named Frankie McCarthy.’
    • ‘The hoodlums reportedly beat Palestinian villagers and vandalised their property.’
    • ‘Off-licences selling alcohol to underage drinkers could be targeted as tough tactics are adopted to stop teenage hoodlums terrorising a town.’
    • ‘The gist is this: there's a small Scottish town plagued with young hoodlums whose violence is getting out of hand.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But this was the work of a handful of hoodlums, terrorists or just plain criminals.’
    hooligan, thug, lout, delinquent, tearaway, vandal, ruffian, rowdy
    gangster, gang member, mobster, criminal, gunman, thug, racketeer, ruffian, member of a criminal gang, member of the mafia, mafioso, yardie
    View synonyms


Late 19th century: of unknown origin.