Word drift -- "gangbang"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Mar 22 16:10:06 UTC 2012

On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 11:49 AM, Larry Sheldon wrote:
> Comment by Don Surber on Facebook:
> "She’s the 6-year-old that gangbangers shot and killed in Chicago while
> she was playing on her front porch over the weekend."
> When I was young and lived where this kind of thing happens, a
> "gangbang" was an event where a group of males, each in succession raped
> ("banged"==had sexual intercourse with) a female.
> So I don't know from the words what Mr. Surber means.  (From the context
> here and elsewhere, the word apparently not refers to any
> run-of-the-mill hoodlum without any particular meaning.)

Nothing new here. OED has "gangbanger" meaning 'a member of a street gang, esp.
one who engages in gang violence' from 1969. And you can find the relevant
meaning in all the major American dictionaries, too.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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