the verb gank

Johanna N Franklin johannaf+ at ANDREW.CMU.EDU
Thu Nov 18 02:59:26 UTC 1999

    "Gank" isn't an especially new word.  My friends and I in southern
Illinois were using it in high school - four or five years ago - to mean
exactly this.  As I recall, it was used least by the upper-class kids.


Excerpts from mail: 17-Nov-99 the verb gank by Arnold Zwicky at CSLI.STANF
> >I've heard it over the past several months, primarily from
> >college students. In asking around about the word today, most
> >of my colleagues have not heard it in use. Students say that
> >they've been using the word since at least this summer and that
> >it is primarly used by college-aged individuals, but might be
> >infiltrating down into high schools now. Also, while "ganking"
> >clearly refers to stealing, the word denotes that the stealing
> >is minor (ganking a roommate's pencil for an exam) or that the
> >"victim" won't care (one of my colleagues ganks one of his
> >brother's shirts almost every holiday that they spend time
> >together). So, ganking kinda means "I stole this, but it
> >doesn't matter, so it's not really stealing."
> now, i'm no expert on the spread of lexical items, or on slang
> (though i once played Dr. Slang on tv in columbus, ohio - a very
> limited engagement), but i do wonder if this is a specifically
> appstate thing, or if it has wider (probably collegiate) currency,
> and if the latter, whether anything has been observed about its
> spread.

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