Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Nautical A passage along either side of a ship's upper deck.
  • n. Nautical See gangplank.
  • n. Nautical An opening in the bulwark of a ship through which passengers may board.
  • n. A narrow passageway, as of boards laid on the ground.
  • n. The main level of a mine.
  • n. Chiefly British The aisle that divides the front and rear seating sections of the House of Commons.
  • n. Chiefly British An aisle between seating sections, as in a theater.
  • interj. Used to clear a passage through a crowded area.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A passageway through which to enter or leave, such as one between seating areas in an auditorium, or between two buildings.
  • n. An articulating bridge or ramp, such as from land to a dock or a ship.
  • n. A temporary passageway, such as one made of planks.
  • n. A clear path through a crowd or a passageway with people.
  • n. An aisle.
  • n. A passage along either side of a ship's upper deck.
  • n. A passage through the side of a ship or though a railing through which the ship may be boarded.
  • n. An earthen and plank ramp leading from the stable yard into the upper storey or mow of a dairy barn.
  • interj. Make way! Clear a path!

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A passage or way into or out of any inclosed place; esp., a temporary way of access formed of planks.
  • n. In the English House of Commons, a narrow aisle across the house, below which sit those who do not vote steadly either with the government or with the opposition.
  • n. The opening through the bulwarks of a vessel by which persons enter or leave it.
  • n. That part of the spar deck of a vessel on each side of the booms, from the quarter-deck to the forecastle; -- more properly termed the waist.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A passage; a temporary passageway to a building while in the course of erection; a way or avenue into or out of any inclosed place, especially a passage into or out of a ship, or from one part of a ship to another.
  • n. A passageway between rows of seats or benches; specifically, in the British House of Commons, a passageway across the house dividing it into two parts.
  • n. In coal-mining, the main haulage road or level driven on the strike of the coal; any minepassage used for opening breasts, or for the hulage of the coal.
  • n. In forestry, the inclined plane up which logs are moved from the water into a sawmill. Also called jack-ladder, log-jack, logway, and slip.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. passageway between seating areas as in an auditorium or passenger vehicle or between areas of shelves of goods as in stores
  • n. a temporary passageway of planks (as over mud on a building site)
  • n. a temporary bridge for getting on and off a vessel at dockside

Etymologies

From gang1, way, passage (obsolete and dialectal).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English gangweg ("passageway, thoroughfare"), equivalant to gang +‎ way. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I therefore kept the felucca away until I found that she was rather more than holding her own in the race, when I once more lashed the tiller, and, calling to Dominguez to look out for the things that I was about to launch overboard, ran to the gangway, and first successfully set the wash-deck tub afloat, then rolled the breaker of water out through the open _gangway_, and finally sent the mast and sail adrift; after which I returned to the tiller and watched the process of picking up the several articles, as I gradually brought the felucca to her former course, close-hauled upon the starboard tack.

    A Pirate of the Caribbees

  • At the end of the gangway is a platform and next to that the patrol boat bobs in the three-foot chop.

    OVERBOARD !

  • The gangway was a mass of shoulders and hats and blanket rolls.

    Gold Seekers of '49

  • The pressed men looked very sulky and angry, and eyed the shore as if even then they longed to jump overboard and swim for it; but the sentry, with his musket, at the gangway was a strong hint that they would have other dangers besides drowning to contend with should they attempt it.

    True Blue

  • As for a cat itself, I cannot say too much against it; and it is singular, that the other meanings of the single word are equally disagreeable; as to _cat_ the anchor, is a sign of _going to sea_, and the _cat_ at the gangway is the worst of all.

    Olla Podrida

  • By the time that they reached Dover he had become so used to his wife's condition that he made but little fluttering as she walked out of the boat by that narrow gangway which is so contrived as to make an arrival there a serious inconvenience to a lady, and a nuisance even to a man.

    Can You Forgive Her?

  • Pulling up before the general store, Grace dismounted and elbowed her way through a crowd of men, smilingly demanding "gangway," which was readily granted, though accompanied by quite personal remarks about her, to which, of course, the Overland girl gave not the slightest heed.

    Grace Harlowe's Overland Riders in the Great North Woods

  • To such an extent was this true that on one occasion while taking a stroll in the suburbs of the old college town he was confronted by a cow, who honoring him with a friendly stare, turned out of his way -- gave him "gangway," as the vulgar expression of our day would have it.

    History of the Afro-American Group of the Episcopal Church

  • In the House of Lords they had to stand in a kind of gangway, and I have heard a venerable man tell how a certain distinguished peeress, who had to pass along this gangway when she went to hear the debates, used deliberately to brush against the reporters as she did so, and knock the note-books out of their hands.

    Memoirs of Sir Wemyss Reid 1842-1885

  • Then a bar was lifted and one of them allowed to escape, only to find himself in a kind of gangway which ran down into shallow water.

    A Yellow God: an Idol of Africa

Comments

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  • Usage:
    I had a couple of drinks in town
    A few more at the port
    I puked up on the gangway
    But some kind folks helped me board
    --"Boat Train," the Pogues, c. 1989 Shane Macgowan

    February 7, 2007