#1
Old 02-24-2004, 04:56 PM
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Etymology of hoodlum?

Etymology of hoodlum?

My gfs teacher told her it was an Irish gang spelled backwards.
#2
Old 02-24-2004, 05:23 PM
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Dutch, I believe.
#3
Old 02-24-2004, 05:26 PM
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Merriam-Webster Online gives the following:

Quote:
Etymology: perhaps from German dialect (Swabia) hudelum disorderly
#4
Old 02-24-2004, 05:27 PM
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This sounded interesting to me, so thought I'd do a bit of searching. Here's what I came up with:

From Take Our Word For It issue 43 -

Quote:
Hoodlum originated in San Francisco in the 1870s and had spread to the rest of the U.S. by the 1880s. However, by 1877 the word's true origin was lost, and, oddly, newspapers of the time seemed to delight in trying to come up with reasonable explanations for its source. The most popular explanation of its origin today is that it comes from dialectical German (Bavarian) Huddellump "ragamuffin".
And as to the backwards bit, issue 50 -

Quote:
Some claim hoodlum to be a reversal of a misspelling of the name Muldoon but this notion is almost certainly fanciful.
That seemed kind of a short explanation, so I kept looking and found this from wikipedia -

Quote:
Hoodlum - first appeared as a pseudonym in a newspaper article, whose editor had misread "Noodlum" (the author's reversal of this wrongdoer's real surname, Muldoon)
#5
Old 02-24-2004, 08:41 PM
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For now, I'll suggest that Random House's cite probably is the most well researched. http://randomhouse.com/wotd/inde...?date=20010327
It has a mix of all of the above theories.
#6
Old 02-24-2004, 11:39 PM
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The version I read back in junior high (sorry, no cite) was that San Francisco was being hit by a crime wave, led by a rather powerful public figure named Muldoon. A newspaperman got a tip as to who was behind the lawlessness, and wrote a scathing editorial about the gang members, whom he referred to as "noodlums". Somewhere between his desk and the printer, the n became an h and the word "hoodlum" was born. Of course, people picked up pretty quickly on what the guy was saying, and Mr. Muldoon was forced to leave town.

That's the way the story goes. Could be a bunch of hooey.
#7
Old 02-25-2004, 12:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kizarvexius
The version I read back in junior high (sorry, no cite) was that San Francisco was being hit by a crime wave, led by a rather powerful public figure named Muldoon. A newspaperman got a tip as to who was behind the lawlessness, and wrote a scathing editorial about the gang members, whom he referred to as "noodlums". Somewhere between his desk and the printer, the n became an h and the word "hoodlum" was born. Of course, people picked up pretty quickly on what the guy was saying, and Mr. Muldoon was forced to leave town.

That's the way the story goes. Could be a bunch of hooey.
It is a bunch of hooey.

As well as the cite above from Winkipedia, indicating the same info. Never happened. By the way, please don't cite Winkipedia as a reliable source, folks. It is a free encyclopedia, edited by anyone who chooses to submit an article. It is pure crap.

All anyone has to do is offer a cite for where we can read the Muldoon article.
#8
Old 02-25-2004, 12:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cichlidiot

That seemed kind of a short explanation, so I kept looking and found this from wikipedia -
Except, it doesn't exist there anymore. That's the beauty of a free encyclopedia. Anyone can edit it. And I just did. It doesn't say what you think it used to anymore. Or something to that effect.

The explanation is hooey.
#9
Old 02-25-2004, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem

The explanation is hooey.
If you look at my post, the part you took issue with, addressed the question in the OP about it being a backwards spelling. I thought the first answer was the "most popular explanation". And the second part was explaining where the idea of it being a name spelled backwards came from (along with a quote calling the idea "fanciful"). Since your site has a mix of the above theories, it would appear there's a bit of hooey mixed in with your post as well?
#10
Old 02-25-2004, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cichlidiot
If you look at my post, the part you took issue with, addressed the question in the OP about it being a backwards spelling. I thought the first answer was the "most popular explanation". And the second part was explaining where the idea of it being a name spelled backwards came from (along with a quote calling the idea "fanciful"). Since your site has a mix of the above theories, it would appear there's a bit of hooey mixed in with your post as well?
My apologies. I'll see if I can find anything more definite and up to date. I'll try to get back here by the weekend. I was really only upset with sources who tout the "Muldoon" theory as the true one.
#11
Old 02-25-2004, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
My apologies. I'll see if I can find anything more definite and up to date. I'll try to get back here by the weekend. I was really only upset with sources who tout the "Muldoon" theory as the true one.
I completely understand, this is GQ after all. I also like what you had to say about wikipedia as a credible (or not so credible) source. I'll be looking forward to reading what you dig up.
#12
Old 02-25-2004, 08:42 PM
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Word-Detective also says that the "noodlum" story is bunk and offers the Bavarian word "Huddellump," meaning "a slovenly person," .
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