There are several theories about the origin of the word hooliganism. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary states that word may originate from the surname of a fictional rowdy Irish family in a music hall song of the 1890s. Clarence Rooks, in his 1899 book, Hooligan Nights, claimed that the word came from Patrick Hoolihan (or Hooligan), an Irish bouncer and thief who lived in the London borough of Southwark. Another theory is that the term came from a street gang in Islington named Hooley. Yet another theory is that the term is based on an Irish word, houlie, which means a wild, spirited party.
The term hooligan has been used since at least the mid 1890s - when it was used to describe the name of a street gang in London - at approximately the same time as Manchester's street gangs, known as the "Scuttlers" were gaining notoriety. The first use of the term is unknown, but the word first appeared in print in London police-court reports in 1894 referring to the name of a gang of youths in the Lambeth area of London - the Hooligan Boys. In August 1898 a murder in Lambeth committed by a member of the gang drew further attention to the word which was immediately popularized by the press.
Later, as the meaning of the word shifted slightly, none of the possible alternatives had precisely the same undertones of a person, usually young, who is a member of an informal group and commits acts of vandalism or criminal damage, starts fights, and who causes disturbances but is not a thief.
The word hooliganism and hooligan began to be associated with violence in sports, in particular from the 1980s in the UK with football hooliganism. However, one of the earliest known instances of crowd violence at a sporting event took place in ancient Constantinople. Two chariot racing factions, the Blues and the Greens, were involved in the Nika riots which lasted around a week in 532 C.E.; nearly half the city was burned or destroyed in addition to tens of thousands of deaths.