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gunzel

noun - a person who has an interest in trains or trams - sometimes to the exclusion of all else. Such people often lack basic social skills. The term originated in Victoria in the mid 1970s, and was then highly derogatory (equivalent of USA foamite/foamer or UK anorak). It is bit by bit gaining acceptance however. The original breakthrough was with tram lovers: a positive term with them while still negative with train lovers. The word came from a second grade USA film, as a contraction of gunslinger, and should really be spelt gunsel; however the z spelling has taken root: Look at that gunzel over there taking a photo of a train getting in the way of everone else.

Editor's comments: According to the Random House Dictionary of American Slang (1994) a "gunsel" is "a stupid or contemptible fellow". This derogatory term is probably the origin of the tram enthusiast meaning. The word probably comes originally from Yiddish "gendzl" = a gosling. In the US it can also mean "a boy, a raw youth", "a young homosexual man" or "a gunman or thug". This last meaning, and the derivation from the word "gunslinger", is probably an error arising from a misunderstood quotation in the 1941 Bogart movie "The Maltese Falcon". According to a contributer to TramsDownUnder (a tram enthusiast user group - www.myweb.net.au/tdu/) "It appears that 'Gunzel' originated at Sydney Tramway Museum when referring to Mexican (i.e. Victorian) railfans who were taking their hobby a little to seriously." Can anyone confirm this?

Contributor's comments: Gunzel is in common usage among train and tram enthusiasts that I know. It is used to refer to themselves and others involved with the hobby ie "I am a gunzel" or "Bazza is a gunzel". These days it is not used in the derogatory way it originally was. It is also used as a verb ie "Bazza went for a gunzel on Saturday".