Definition of hooligan in US English:



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

    as modifier ‘hooligan behavior’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The government is to get tough on hooligans who cause mayhem with fireworks.’
    • ‘A drunken hooligan who smashed a glass into a motorist's face has been jailed for 18 months.’
    • ‘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 …’
    • ‘Officers have been given the go-ahead to impose curfews and exclusion zones on young hooligans.’
    • ‘Football violence has increased markedly in the city in recent years and there have been numerous outbreaks of trouble between rival hooligan gangs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their peace of mind has been shattered by young hooligans who use the derelict estate as their playground.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She said the police should have done more to stop the hooligans.’
    • ‘The hooligan element has re-emerged at every level of football.’
    • ‘The hotel was banned from serving late drinks 20 years ago after drunken hooligans made life a misery for residents.’
    • ‘He said: "Obviously, the repeated vandalism of the statue is of great concern and hopefully the mindless hooligans responsible will be caught."’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A gang of teenage hooligans has turned a quiet Carroll Gardens park in into a war zone.’
    • ‘Residents are being driven out of their homes by young yobs and hooligans who are making their lives a misery.’
    • ‘Young hooligans face being barred from Otley as part of a crackdown on crime in the town centre.’
    • ‘The hooligans also vandalised changing rooms at a nearby school.’
    • ‘The Japanese authorities had feared an invasion of English hooligans, but there has been little trouble so far.’
    hoodlum, thug, lout, delinquent, tearaway, vandal, ruffian, rowdy, troublemaker
    View synonyms


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.