Mob and gang
Terry Rogers
I need to find out the origins of the words mob and gang for a university assignment. Can anyone help?

Thank you.

Lewis Joplin II
What's the deadline for your assignment? I believe I can help but I'm away from my library right now.
Frank Pierce
The word "mob" I've heard, comes from the Latin "mobus" meaning about the same thing. Gang, I'd guess, has a lot to do with the German gehen, "to go", the participle of which is "gegangen." Sounds as though there might be some sort of implied relationship to those you generally "go" with, your "gang".
Actually, both words stem from a reference to motion. Consider, also, "gangway" and "gangplank." With, "mob," it's essential from "mobile." The Latin is actually mobile, meaning "vascillating," and comes from the phrase, mobile vulgus (vulgus meaning "crowd").
Terry Rogers
To Lewis Joplin,
Thank you for your offer to help me.I have three weeks from today to submit my assignment.You have not published your email address with your profile, so this is the only way to reply.

Thank you,
Terry Rogers

Lewis Joplin II
GANG - "n. 1400, band of men; earlier, a number of things used together (probably 1340); also, a going, journey (probably about 1200), a road, path (1199); developed from Old English (before 830) 'gong' a going, journey, step, passage. The disparity of meanings indicated two sources: group of men and set, directly from Old Icelandic; and a going, journey, way, from Old English; cognate with Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German 'gang' (modern German 'Gang') a going. Old Icelandic 'gangr' a going (but also, a grou), and Gothic 'gagg' a going, from Proto-Germanic...' gangster n. 1896, American English; formed from English 'gang,' n. + 'ster.'..." From "Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology" by Robert K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995). Page 309.

GANGSTER MOVIE "...a 1934 term (the word 'gangster' itself dates only from 1896) Gangster movies were popular in the early 30s because this was the end of Prohibition..." "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982). Page 408. MOBSTER "...1917; 'the mob,' 1920s ('mob' entered English in the 19th century, from Latin 'mobile vulgus,' the fickle crowd)." Page 436.
Lewis Joplin II
An example of the use of the word "gang" meaning to walk:

GANG AGLEY -- "Here 'gang' is a Scottish-dialect verb meaning 'to walk or go' and 'agley' means 'awry.' It's known and remembered almost exclusively because of Robert Burns's famous lines 'To a Mouse.': 'The best laid schemes o' mice an' men/ Gang aft a-gley,/An' 'lea'e us naught but grief an' pain,' For promis'd joy!'" From the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988). Page 236.

The following source seems to be saying that gang, to walk, and gang, meaning a group, come from the same source. At least that's the way I am reading it. Anyone have another take on the subject?

GANG - "... 'gang' originally meant 'going, journey.' It was borrowed from Old Norse 'gangr,' which goes back ultimately to the same Germanic source (the verb 'ganggan' go) as produced the German past participle 'gegangen' gone and Old English 'gangan' go - still preserved in Scottish 'gang' go and in 'gangway', originally literally a 'way for going.' The word's modern meaning seems to have developed via 'quantity carried on a journey' (a common usage in Scottish English well into the 19th century) and 'set of articles carried together' to (in the 17th century) 'group of workmen' and 'group of people acting together for a (bad) purpose." From the "Dictionary of Word Origins: the Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words" by John Ayto (Arcade Publishing, New York, 1990). Page 248.

More on "mob":

MOB - "Englishmen often criticize Americans for their laziness in shortening words like 'fanatic' to 'fan,' but they were doing the same thing long before. Early in the 17th century some British Latin scholars introduced the phrase 'mobile vulgus,' 'movable (or fickle) crowd,' for an excited or fickle crowd. People shortened this to one word, mobile, which they pronounced 'mobilly,' and then further abbreviated it to 'mob.' Language purists were quite indignant. 'This Humour of speaking not more than we need...has so miserably curtailed some of our words,' Addison complained, citing 'mob' as a new vulgarism. 'I have done my utmost for some years past to stop the progress of 'mob'...,' Steele wrote in the 'Tatler,' 'but have been plainly borne down by numbers, and betrayed by those who promised to assist me.' 'Mob,' of course, survived all its critics. Said Swift of the word in 'Polite Conversation,' 'Abbreviations exquisitely refined: as 'Pozz' for 'positively,' Mobb' for 'Mobile.'" From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). Page 454.

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