Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Sports An incompetent or easily defeated athlete, especially a prizefighter.
  • noun Slang A stupid or clumsy person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun US slang A stupid, oafish or clumsy person.
  • noun US, boxing Someone incompetent or untalented in the specified area.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a second-rate prize fighter

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Possibly, from Polish surname Paluka, or variant of Polack.

Examples

Comments

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  • This is on the National Spelling Bee Master Word List, under words that occur frequently. Origin unknown, if memory serves.

    September 26, 2008

  • from YourDictionary.com:

    noun

    Slang: a clumsy or oafish fellow, esp. an inept athlete

    October 27, 2009

  • Not our palooka. Our palooka is a gracious, amusing, but steely-eyed leader of Wordie Treatment battles. :-)

    October 28, 2009

  • Also, he has no nipples. (By his own claim.)

    October 28, 2009

  • Yes. We let him think that. ;->

    October 29, 2009

  • Does anyone have more info or theories on the origin of this word?

    June 21, 2020

  • My theory is that it came from 1940s movies from Australia given the definition about boxing

    https://books.google.ca/books?id=SPps6d210zYC&pg=PA74&dq=palooka


    Maybe it's from a decade earlier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNoG7NDOyc4  1930's movie and comic strips.  

    June 21, 2020