from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. In Australia, a railway enthusiast. Originally derogatory, referring to overly enthusiastic or foolish rail fans. Now refers to railway enthusiasts in general, and the term is often used with pride.
- v. To engage in railway enthusiast activities.
Believed to be a derivation of the American slang gunsel (1), meaning a gangster or hoodlum who uses a gun, popularised in books such as The Maltese Falcon. In these books the implication was that a gunsel was 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. May be used to refer to a specific interest, e.g. "freight gunzel", "tram gunzel". (Wiktionary)
Gunsel (or gunzel) has several definitions, including "an inexperienced youth" or "a clever, crafty, treacherous person"; but Hammett had in mind, as James Sandoe was the first to point out in print, the word's catamite significance.