The gang double

Today’s Rhymes With Orange (guest cartoon by Rina Piccolo) plays on double and gang, incidentally threading into a bit of etymology:

One ingredient here is the borrowed German word doppelgänger:

an apparition or double of a living person: he has a doppelgänger named Donald, his invented twin brother. ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from German, literally ‘double-goer’ (NOAD2)

(Speakers vary in how much they nativize the pronunciation of the word, all the way to

/ˈdapəlˌgæŋər/.)

Then there’s gang ‘an organized group of criminals’ (NOAD2) — or, more generally, of disreputable characters, or even more generally, of people who hang out together.

As it happens, gang ultimately is etymologically related to German gehen ‘to go’: the members of a gang go together. But current speakers of course have no awareness of that fascinating fact.

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