Date: Wed, 14 Jun 1995 22:19:54 -0400
From: James C Stalker stalker[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: Teen Slang Terms (Gank and Gaffl
I picked up two odd terms (odd to me) from junior high students in
Columbia, Missouri. The first is "to gank" meaning to physically
assault or intimidate someone in order to steal from them. As in, I
ganked his bicycle. The only other place I have seen this term is in
Paul Dickson's 1990 book, Slang! The Topic by Topic Dictionary of
Contemporary American Lingoes. On page 217 Paul lists gank meaning
The second word is entirely new to me. It is "to gaffle"
(spelling?) meaning simply to steal something from someone without
violence or their awareness. As in, she didn't know it, but I gaffled
a stick of gum from her purse.
My sources are only oral. The informants had no clue as to
etymology but they said both terms were old. But then, old to
teenagers can mean last week.
University of Missouri-Columbia
robertsr[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ext.missouri.edu
Gank, in the sense "steal," especially in the sense "to scam," "to bilk," has
been active in East Lansing in both high school
and college (Mich State U) since 1992. That is the first reported instance in
my data. Lighter does not list it. Perhaps in junior high, old means that it
has filtered down from above (high school), despite Labovian theory.
As for gaffle, I just checked my 18 year old sources, who are lurking in the
family room playing hockey on the Sega, and they agree that gaffle means mostly
to hit someone, but can also mean to take something from them. I just checked
gank, and for them it means only to take. No violence involved.