Definition of hooligan in English:



  • A violent young troublemaker, typically one of a gang.

    • ‘There was nothing unusual about any of this and no doubt the hooligan gangs of both clubs were eager for more trouble after the game.’
    • ‘The government is to get tough on hooligans who cause mayhem with fireworks.’
    • ‘The hotel was banned from serving late drinks 20 years ago after drunken hooligans made life a misery for residents.’
    • ‘Seventy people, if you can call a screaming mob of hooligans human in any meaningful sense of the word, have been arrested for their role in the destruction of 18,000 books and 30,000 manuscripts.’
    • ‘A 10-year-old girl fighting for her life after being thrown from an unsaddled horse had just rescued the animal from a gang of hooligans and was trying to take it to safety when the accident occurred.’
    • ‘He said: "Obviously, the repeated vandalism of the statue is of great concern and hopefully the mindless hooligans responsible will be caught."’
    • ‘Officers have been given the go-ahead to impose curfews and exclusion zones on young hooligans.’
    • ‘Our evidence of the calibre of rank and file terrorists does not support the view that they are mindless hooligans drawn from the unemployed and the employable …’
    • ‘Their peace of mind has been shattered by young hooligans who use the derelict estate as their playground.’
    • ‘Young hooligans face being barred from Otley as part of a crackdown on crime in the town centre.’
    • ‘Football violence has increased markedly in the city in recent years and there have been numerous outbreaks of trouble between rival hooligan gangs.’
    • ‘The hooligans also vandalised changing rooms at a nearby school.’
    • ‘A drunken hooligan who smashed a glass into a motorist's face has been jailed for 18 months.’
    • ‘The Japanese authorities had feared an invasion of English hooligans, but there has been little trouble so far.’
    • ‘Residents are being driven out of their homes by young yobs and hooligans who are making their lives a misery.’
    • ‘She said the police should have done more to stop the hooligans.’
    • ‘The hooligan element has re-emerged at every level of football.’
    • ‘But to label the whole Asian community for the acts of a minority is nearly as senseless as labelling every football fan as a hooligan.’
    • ‘A gang of teenage hooligans has turned a quiet Carroll Gardens park in into a war zone.’
    • ‘Although hard, the work was rewarding and enjoyable: I spent most of my time playing sports or going out on field trips with gangs of little hooligans.’
    hoodlum, thug, lout, delinquent, tearaway, vandal, ruffian, rowdy, troublemaker
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Late 19th century: perhaps from Hooligan, the surname of a fictional rowdy Irish family in a music-hall song of the 1890s, also of a cartoon character.