from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Slang A hoodlum or other criminal, especially one who carries a gun.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A gun-carrying hoodlum or other criminal.
- n. A young man kept for homosexual purposes; a catamite.
- n. A passive partner in anal intercourse.
Perhaps alteration (influenced by gun) of Yiddish gendzl, gosling, diminutive of gandz, goose, from Middle High German gans, from Old High German.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
By misunderstanding of the 1929 Maltese Falcon quotation above (which survived in a popular 1941 film adaptation). The novel was originally serialized in a magazine, Black Mask, whose editor refused to allow vulgarities. Hammett used the word gunsel knowing that the editor would likely misunderstand it as relating to gun, and therefore allow it. (Wiktionary)
From Yiddish גענדזל (gendzl, "gosling"). (Wiktionary)