HOOLIGAN, the generally accepted modern term for a young street ruffian or rowdy. It seems to have been first applied to the young street ruffians of the South-East of London about 1890, but though popular in the district, did not attract general attention till later, when authentic information of its origin was lost, but it appears that the most probable source was a comic song which was popular in the lower-class music-hall in the late 'eighties or early 'nineties, which described the doings of a rowdy family named Hooligan (i.e. Irish Houlihan). A comic character with the same name also appears to have been the central figure in a series of adventures running through an obscure English comic paper of about the same date, and also in a similar New York paper, where his confrere in the adventures is a German named Schneider (see Notes and Queries, gth series, vol. ii. pp. 227 and 316, 1898, and loth series, vol. vii. p. 115, 1901). In other countries the " hooligan " finds his counterpart. The Parisian Apache, so self-styled after the North American Indian tribe, is a much more dangerous character; mere rowdyism, the characteristic of the English " hooligan," is replaced by murder, robbery and outrage. An equally dangerous class of young street ruffian is the " hoodlum " of the United States of America; this term arose in San Francisco in 1870, and thence spread. Many fanciful origins of the name have been given, for some of which see Manchester (N.H.) Notes and Queries, September 1883 (cited in the New English Dictionary). The " plug-ugly " of Baltimore is another name for the same class. More familiar is the Australian " larrikin," which apparently came into use about 1870 in Melbourne. The story that the word represents an Irish policeman's pronunciation of " larking " is a mere invention. It is probably only an adaptation of the Irish " Larry," short for Lawrence. Others suggest that it is a corruption of the slang Leary Kinchen, i.e. knowing, wide-awake child.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)