We are giddy with glee to welcome Richard, author of the Sparkletack blog and podcast, to the SFist family. Richard's encyclopedic knowledge of San Francisco's past makes his history podcast mandatory listening for anyone who cares about the city -- where we came from, how we got here, and why we're so bizarre. His expertise stretches back hundreds of years, and we're totally hooked on his ability to link modern-day San Franciscoisms to their old-timey roots.

Richard's going to be supplementing our rigorous news & events coverage with periodic nifty field trips back in time, and we're thrilled beyond measure that he's arrived to class up the joint. And now, without any further ado:

"Hoodlum: a person who engages in crime or violence; a hooligan or gangster'."

The last time we were accosted in the wee hours of a Mission Street morning, "hoodlum" was definitely not the first word to spring to mind. The epithet's intensity has faded over the years. In fact, the last time we heard it, it was being hollered at a hyperactive five-year-old.

But we say it's time for a hoodlum comeback! Why? Well, it turns out there's a San Francisco angle. "Hoodlum" is a coinage from the 1860's Barbary Coast, just like "shanghai" - a word invented right here in the City, way back when street gangs ruled our muddy streets.

So we know what it means, but why does it mean it? Like all the best American words, there's a little etymological confusion. Here's a short list of the most likely suspects:

After the jump: fezzes, girlums, and huddles!