Friday the 13th Word

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Maytag "Danged Agitator"
palooka • \puh-LOO-kuh\ • noun
*1 : an inexperienced or incompetent boxer
2 : oaf, lout

Example sentence:
"Before Ali, they say, boxing was just a bunch of palookas punching each other." (Joseph D. O'Brian, American Heritage, October 1991)

Did you know?
The origin of "palooka" is unknown, though various theories have been put forth (some sources credit the baseball player and sportswriter Jack Conway with the coinage, for example). "Palooka" first appeared in print in 1924, and may have been popularized by a comic strip titled "Joe Palooka" (by Ham Fisher), which began a few years later. The probable connection between Fisher's comic and "palooka" only adds to the mystery surrounding this term, however. Joe Palooka was a boxer who was neither incompetent nor clumsy and oafish, and yet the word "palooka" came to have these negative meanings. In addition, limited evidence shows that "palooka" is occasionally used as a general synonym for "rookie" and also as a term describing horses with very little chance of winning.

Merriam-Webster Online
 




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