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See also: Gunzel



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Believed to derive from the American slang gunsel (gangster or hoodlum who uses a gun), popularised in books such as The Maltese Falcon in which a gunsel was implied to be somewhat foolish and reckless. The word gunzel originated from the Sydney Tramway Museum in the 1960s as a term for foolish or reckless railfans who shot at things with cameras. Usage was originally confined to south eastern states, it has since spread to the whole of Australia and parts of New Zealand.



gunzel (plural gunzels)

  1. (Australia) a railway or tram enthusiast; (formerly derogatory) an overly enthusiastic or foolish rail fan. (Can we verify(+) this sense?)
    • 2008, Mark Dapin, Strange Country (page 293)
      'There're people who have an intellectual impairment,' he said, 'and studying trains seems a natural thing for them to gravitate to. And then there're people who have more of a hobby-style interest in it.' [] He feels gunzels are misunderstood by the outside world.
    • 2009 January 9, Jeremy Lee, "Foamers, gunzels, and gricers", ABC South West Victoria.
      Attention all foamers, gunzels, and gricers - the Warrnambool model railway club are about to display their wares once again.
    • 2011 December 31, Adam Carey, "Tram driver who lived for the job was 'last of his kind'", The Age, quoting John Andrews.
      '​'He loved the job and for him the job was his life. He wasn't a gunzel [tram obsessive], he was far more interested [in] his passengers.'​'
    • 2012 November 15, Adam Carey, "New myki card readers no faster", Sydney Morning Herald.
      Marcus Wong, a self-described gunzel (rail obsessive) and engineering geek, conducted his experiment in two stages - timing the hybrid Metcard/myki barriers in June and again last week with the new myki-only gates that have replaced them.
    • 2013 June 28, Darren Gray, "Riding the grain train", Sydney Morning Herald.
      At 2.27am when it slows to a halt at Bendigo railway station for a crew change, two young gunzels (rail fanatics) are waiting with cameras on the platform alongside the crew.
    • 2015 May 3, Hannah Francis, "Melbourne 'connies' celebrate Kew tram depot centenary", The Age/Sydney Morning Herald.
      Los Angeles is "the city of angels". And Melbourne? Well, Melbourne should be the "city of gunzels", says former tram conductor Roberto D'Andrea.
    • 2015 December 2, Adam Carey, "New myki card readers no faster", Sydney Morning Herald.
      Gunzels take note: the trial next generation reader has been installed on tram number 6008.
  2. (Australia) an enthusiast or geek with a specific interest.
    • 2016, Tom Chesshyre, Ticket to Ride: Around the World on 49 Unusual Train Journeys
      I ask him about Australian trainspotters. 'Do such people exist?'
      'We call them train gunzels. A gunzel is a person who is really stuck on one thing. In Sydney you get guys on the platforms. This carriage here is the CDF924 – that's the number for Matilda's Restaurant. The guys on the platform will say, "Oh, I haven't seen that for a while" [] '
  3. (US) Alternative spelling of gunsel.



gunzel (third-person singular simple present gunzels, present participle gunzelling, simple past and past participle gunzelled)

  1. To engage in railway enthusiast activities.