Word Origin & History
O.E. gong "a going, journey, way, passage," and O.N. gangr "a group of men, a set," both from P.Gmc. *gangaz (noun of action related to *gangan "to go"), from PIE base *ghengh- "to step" (cf. Skt. jangha "shank," Avestan zanga- "ankle," Lith. zengiu "I stride"). The sense evolution is probably via meaning
"a set of articles that are usually taken together in going," especially a set of tools used on the same job. By 1620s this had been extended in nautical speech to mean "a company of workmen," and by 1630s the word was being used, with disapproving overtones, for "any band of persons traveling together." Gangway preserves the original sense of the word, as does gangplank (1846, Amer.Eng., replacing earlier gang-board). To gang up (on) is first attested 1925. To come on like gangbusters (c.1940) is from radio drama "Gangbusters" (1937-57) which always opened with a cacophony of sirens, screams, shots, and jarring music. Gang of Four (1976) translates Chinese sirenbang, the nickname given to the four leaders of the Cultural Revolution who took the fall in Communist China after the death of Mao.