goon, you


goon, you
   This is roughly the equivalent of ‘you dope’, ‘you sap’ when used by an American wife to her husband in Rabbit is Rich, by John Updike. Arthur Hailey, in Hotel, has a young man call a girl ‘you fool, you stupid goon’ when she bites him while he is trying to rape her. ‘You silly goon’ is addressed by one man to another in a not particularly aggressive way in The Sleepers of Erin, by Jonathan Gash. There was an earlier word ‘gony’, sometimes written as ‘gooney’, which in English dialect use meant a simpleton. It was presumably this word which inspired E.C.Segar, creator of the Popeye cartoon strip, to name a character ‘Alice the Goon’. This character no doubt influenced American use of ‘goon’; British speakers associate the word with The Goon Show, a series of radio comedy shows which became immensely popular in the 1960s. The goons in the show included Peter Sellers and Sir Harry Secombe. There is a special sense of ‘goon’ in American slang, the word being applied to a mindless thug who is paid to behave violently for illegal purposes.

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.