1 [gang]
a group or band: A gang of boys gathered around the winning pitcher.
a group of youngsters or adolescents who associate closely, often exclusively, for social reasons, especially such a group engaging in delinquent behavior.
a group of people with compatible tastes or mutual interests who gather together for social reasons: I'm throwing a party for the gang I bowl with.
a group of persons working together; squad; shift: a gang of laborers.
a group of persons associated for some criminal or other antisocial purpose: a gang of thieves.
a set of tools, electronic components or circuits, oars, etc., arranged to work together or simultaneously.
a group of identical or related items.
verb (used with object)
to arrange in groups or sets; form into a gang: to gang illustrations for more economical printing on one sheet.
to attack in a gang.
verb (used without object)
to form or act as a gang: Cutthroats who gang together hang together.
Verb phrases
gang up on, Informal. (of a number of persons) to unite in opposition to (a person); combine against: The bigger boys ganged up on the smaller ones in the schoolyard.

1300–50; Middle English; Old English gang, gong manner of going, way, passage; cognate with Old High German gang, Old Norse gangr, Gothic gagg; cf. gang2

1. company, crowd, crew; party, set, clique, coterie. 4. team. Unabridged


2 [gang]
verb (used without object) Chiefly Scot. and North England.
to walk or go.

before 900; Middle English gangen, Old English gangan, gongan; cognate with Old High German gangan, Old Norse ganga, Gothic gaggan; cf. gang1, noun derivative from same base Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To gang
World English Dictionary
gang1 (ɡæŋ)
1.  a group of people who associate together or act as an organized body, esp for criminal or illegal purposes
2.  an organized group of workmen
3.  a herd of buffaloes or elks or a pack of wild dogs
4.  (NZ) a group of shearers who travel to different shearing sheds, shearing, classing, and baling wool
5.  a.  a series of similar tools arranged to work simultaneously in parallel
 b.  (as modifier): a gang saw
6.  to form into, become part of, or act as a gang
7.  (tr) electronics to mount (two or more components, such as variable capacitors) on the same shaft, permitting adjustment by a single control
[Old English gang journey; related to Old Norse gangr, Old High German gang, Sanskrit jangha foot]

gang2 (ɡæŋ)
(Scot) to go
[Old English gangan to go1]

gang3 (ɡæŋ)
a variant spelling of gangue

gangue or gang (ɡæŋ)
valueless and undesirable material, such as quartz in small quantities, in an ore
[C19: from French gangue, from German Gang vein of metal, course; see gang1]
gang or gang
[C19: from French gangue, from German Gang vein of metal, course; see gang1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with gang, also see like gangbusters.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


a group of persons, usually youths, who share a common identity and who generally engage in criminal behaviour. In contrast to the criminal behaviour of other youths, the activities of gangs are characterized by some level of organization and continuity over time. There is no consensus on the exact definition of a gang, however, and scholars have debated whether the definition should expressly include involvement in crime. Some gangs, but not all, have strong leadership, formalized rules, and extensive use of common identifying symbols. Many gangs associate themselves with a particular geographic area or type of crime, and some use graffiti as a form of nonverbal communication

Learn more about gang with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Sometimes, riots are usually caused by one gang of people but responded by another gang.
Especially if the only tattoos one can have are blood-dripping, vile symbols of
  gang affiliation.
Gang members themselves do not keep a history or, if they do, do not share it
  with outsiders.
Our trip was fun because our gang gets along really well.
Idioms & Phrases
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature