\ˈgaŋ \

Definition of gang 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : group: such as

a : a group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends especially : a band of antisocial adolescents

b : a group of persons working together

2 : a group of persons having informal and usually close social relations watching TV with the gang

3a : a set of articles : outfit a gang of oars

b : a combination of similar implements or devices arranged for convenience to act together a gang of saws


verb (1)
ganged; ganging; gangs

Definition of gang (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to assemble or operate simultaneously as a group

b : to arrange in or produce as a gang

2 : to attack in a gang Hoodlums ganged him and took his money.

intransitive verb

: to move or act as a gang Her opponents ganged together to oppose her nomination. — see also gang up


verb (2)
ganged; ganging; gangs

Definition of gang (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb


: go

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Examples of gang in a Sentence


a gang of drug dealers He is in a gang. He was shot by a member of a rival gang. the gang at the office
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Human rights monitors for the U.N. found that at least 120 women and girls were raped or gang-raped between April 16 and May 24. Cara Anna, The Seattle Times, "Gang-rapes, lynchings: UN tallies latest South Sudan abuses," 10 July 2018 While in Honduras, the boy witnessed gang violence, including his grandmother’s body tossed in a river with her neck split open. Daniela Altimari,, "Judge Rules Separation of Immigrant Children Living in Connecticut From Their Parents Is Unconstitutional," 14 July 2018 Officers who interview those seeking asylum at the border and review refugee applications have been directed to immediately reject claims based on fears of gang violence and domestic abuse, CNN reported on Thursday. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 The asylum rules solidify U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' earlier directive instructing immigration judges to all but stop considering claims of domestic violence and gang violence as reasons for granting asylum. Pamela Ren Larson, azcentral, "Trump administration issues new asylum rules aimed at families arriving at border," 13 July 2018 The guidance impacts people fleeing domestic violence or gang violence as well as asylum seekers who cross the border illegally. Kate Morrissey,, "New guidance for asylum officers could send thousands back from the border," 12 July 2018 But the first-grader didn't know how much her parents were struggling amid the crime, gang violence and grinding poverty that plagues swaths of Honduras. Jay Root And Shannon Najmabadi, star-telegram, "'A very cruel punishment': Family split by 'zero tolerance' won't try to cross again," 10 July 2018 Privacy - Terms The City of Hamlet canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration in 2017 due to fears of gang violence. Michael Gordon, charlotteobserver, "NC town canceled its 2017 fireworks due to gangs. Then Jeff Sessions got really ticked.," 5 July 2018 The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Ansly Damus, described by the ACLU as a Haitian ethics teacher in his early 40s who has been detained for more than a year in Ohio since fleeing to the U.S. to escape gang violence and political persecution. Jacob Gershman, WSJ, "Federal Judge Rules Against Mass Detention of Asylum Seekers," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Such engines can run solo but are typically ganged together in groups of two to four. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Skip the Seasickness: How Boats Are Getting More Tech-Savvy," 28 June 2018 Gyrostabilization is used in commercial shipping, military vessels and cost-is-no-object megayachts, and the devices are easily ganged together. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Skip the Seasickness: How Boats Are Getting More Tech-Savvy," 28 June 2018 If a small majority (or even a large majority) of owners could gang together to reduce their percentage and raise others’, that would be neither fair nor honest. Benny L. Kass,, "Must owners without gardens chip in for association landscaping costs?," 15 Nov. 2017 A few days after the review appeared online, Troemel posted a side-by-side comparison and his supporters swiftly expressed their alarm over the similarity, in some cases, ganging up on Gazinskaya. Amy Verner, Vogue, "Catching Up With Vika Gazinskaya and Brad Troemel in the Wake of Fashion’s Latest Copying Debate," 13 July 2017 Backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski’s red zone series ended abruptly when defensive linemen Dan Ekuale and Hercules Mata’afa ganged up to deny tailback Gerard Wicks passage over the goal line. Stefanie Loh, The Seattle Times, "WSU practice notes: Mike Leach says, ‘We’re getting a little more consistent’," 6 Aug. 2017 Sometimes multiple guardians of the English language will gang up, employing ridicule through bad cop-bad cop ridiculing tactics. By Emily Parnell,, "Grammar police, do us a favor and put a sock in it," 20 June 2017 The new version faces contemporary challenges: Many species featured in the original are now considered endangered and Marvel’s Wolverine and Wolfsbane are always ganging up on our hero. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Naywatch: Stop breaking 'CHiPs' off the old TV block," 13 June 2017 Residents should gang up and notify the St. Charles Police Department at 630-377-4435. Aurora Beacon-News, "St. Charles warns about electric services scams," 3 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gang.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gang


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

Verb (1)

1791, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Verb (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gang


Middle English, "going, journey, road, path, privy, group of items forming a set," going back to Old English, "going, walking, journey, course, path, privy," going back to Germanic *ganga- (whence Old Saxon gang "walk, course," Old High German "walk, journey, passage," Old Norse gangr "going, course," Gothic gagg "way"), noun derivative from the base of *gangan- "to go" — more at gang entry 3

Note: The meaning "set of articles" apparently first appeared in Middle English, the now predominant meaning "group of persons" in early Modern English (hypothesized instances of this sense in Middle and Old English are dubious). A direct descendant of Old English gang in Modern English would be gong (with the effects of vowel lengthening before the cluster -ŋg- and subsequent rounding of the long vowel in monosyllables), but this survived into Modern English only in the sense "privy"—the now general form gang for other senses was borrowed into standard English from northern dialects and Scots, where rounding never occurred. Use of both the noun and verb gang in its historical senses, denoting motion or passage, is now largely limited to traditional Scots.

Verb (1)

derivative of gang entry 1

Verb (2)

Middle English gangen, gongen & early Scots gang, going back to Old English gangan, gongan, going back to Germanic *gangan- (whence Old Saxon & Old High German gangan"to go," Old Norse ganga, Gothic gaggan), probably going back to Indo-European *ǵhenǵh-i̯̯e-, whence also Lithuanian žeñgti "to stride"

Note: Old English gangan, a Class VII strong verb, was used more or less as a synonym of gān, the ancestor of Modern English go entry 1 (itself descended from Germanic *gēn-), though forms other than the present tense and infinitive rarely occur. In other Germanic languages cognates of gangan served and still serve as suppletive forms of the parallel cognates of gān. Compare note at gang entry 1.

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Dictionary Entries near gang







gang bang

Statistics for gang

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gang

The first known use of gang was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for gang



English Language Learners Definition of gang

: a group of criminals

: a group of young people who do illegal things together and who often fight against other gangs

: a group of people who are friends and who do things together


\ˈgaŋ \

Kids Definition of gang

1 : a group of people working or going about together

2 : a group of people acting together to do something illegal a gang of thieves

3 : a group of friends I invited the gang over.



Legal Definition of gang 

: a group of persons associating for antisocial and often criminal purposes and activities

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Comments on gang

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