Similar words


  • Shortened from gooney, from obsolete gony ("simpleton", circa 1580), of unknown origin. Perhaps a familiar term derived from Middle English gone, a variant of gome. Gony was applied by sailors to the albatross and similar big, clumsy birds (circa 1839). Goon first carried the meaning "stupid person" (circa 1921).
  • The meaning of "hired thug" (circa 1938) is largely influenced by the comic strip character Alice the Goon from the Popeye series.
  • The "fool" sense was reinforced by the popular radio program, The Goon Show, starring Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers.
  • The "guard" sense was influenced by both senses 1 and 2, though not by the Goon Show reference, which arose about 10 years after WWII.
  • Perhaps diminutive slang for flagon or from Aboriginal English goom.

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