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90s Slang You Should Know


[gawng, gong] /gɔŋ, gɒŋ/
a large bronze disk, of Asian origin, having an upturned rim, that produces a vibrant, hollow tone when struck, usually with a stick or hammer that has a padded head.
a shallow bell sounded by a hammer operated electrically or mechanically:
The fire-alarm system will automatically sound the gong.
(in a clock or watch) a rod or wire, either straight or bent into a spiral, on which the time is struck.
British Slang. a medal or military decoration.
verb (used without object)
to sound as a gong does; ring, chime, or reverberate.
Origin of gong
1800-10; < Malay, Javanese: any suspended bossed and rimmed gong; presumably imitative
Related forms
gonglike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gong
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Bangs gave the proper signal for the affirmative, after he had struck the gong.

    Across India Oliver Optic
  • Then he spoke through the tube to the engineer, and rang the gong.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • This funny little midget alone knows where gong Schow's wealth is buried.

    The Bradys After a Chinese Princess Francis Worcester Doughty
  • They had not to wait long, for the anchor was weighed, and the captain rang the gong.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • The expected summons came, and even as the wheels of the motor crunched the gravel Lind sounded the gong and Mrs. Hancock entered.

    Arundel Edward Frederic Benson
  • The captain rang the gong to stop the screw, and then to back it.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • I rose quickly from my couch at the first sounding of the gong.

    The Enchanted Typewriter John Kendrick Bangs
British Dictionary definitions for gong


Also called tam-tam. a percussion instrument of indefinite pitch, consisting of a metal platelike disc struck with a soft-headed drumstick
a rimmed metal disc, hollow metal hemisphere, or metal strip, tube, or wire that produces a note when struck. It may be used to give alarm signals when operated electromagnetically
a fixed saucer-shaped bell, as on an alarm clock, struck by a mechanically operated hammer
(Brit, slang) a medal, esp a military one
(intransitive) to sound a gong
(transitive) (of traffic police) to summon (a driver) to stop by sounding a gong
Derived Forms
gonglike, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Malay, of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gong

c.1600, from Malay gong, probably imitative of its sound when struck. As a verb from 1903.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gong



  1. (also gonger) An opium pipe (1914+ Narcotics)
  2. A military decoration; medal or ribbon (British WWII use)

[both senses probably fr gong, ''saucer-shaped metal bell,'' of Malayan origin; the sense ''opium pipe'' may be related to the general association of gongs with Chinese matters, and the military sense to the notion that a decoration is something like the ceremonial sounding of a gong]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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