Words: Hooligan

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The Independent Culture
HOW APPROPRIATE that hooligans should be in the news: this year is the centenary of the first appearance of the word hooligan.

The derivation of the word is disputed. Some say it came from an Irish family, the Houlihans, noted for their ruffianly behaviour in south-east London. Others claim it is a reference to a gang run by a chap named Hooley.

The earliest appearance of the word in print is in newspaper reports of police-court cases in 1898.

Last week, celebrations in Marseilles of the centenary of hooliganism were evidently well supported. In the week to 13 June, there were 277 articles on our newspaper database including the word hooligan, compared with only 61 the week before. Lout, thug, yob and mindless also featured prominently.