Slang City Mail

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March 10, 2005

Slang of the Week: gat (noun)
a gun

Martha’s husband thought she didn’t know about the affair until she pulled a gat out of her apron.

Celebrity quote:
“Saw my car and bought a brand new gat
Punk, but who you gon' shoot with that?”
-Da Lench Mob on the song Who Ya Gonna Shoot With That?

This week’s word is a great example of how slang comes in and out of fashion. Gat, originally from “Gatling gun” is now a popular word in rap songs, most recently appearing in 50 Cent’s song Gatman and Robin. But according to the Oxford Dictionary of Slang, this word was slang for handguns way back in 1897.

The original Gatling gun was a hand-cranked machine gun named for its inventor, Dr. Richard Gatling. First used in the Civil War, it had six barrels and could shoot 200 rounds per minute, which was remarkable at the time.

Of course, while gat is a fairly general term, many guns are called by name in rap songs, including Glocks, Mossbergs, and Tec-9s. Sadly, rappers rarely employ the poetic nicknames for machine guns, such as woodpeckers and typewriters.