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.

Randy Roberts

University of Missouri-Columbia


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.