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The etymology of 'gunner'

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by james1988, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. james1988

    james1988 Banned

    Mar 9, 2008
    What is the etymology of 'gunner'?
    I mean, the term does strike you as slightly autological, but wherein lies the meaning?
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  3. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    A quick google search suggests that "gunner" is derived from scandinavian, meaning warrior. The longstanding definition of the term is someone who succeeds by compromising personal relationships, ie someone who gets ahead by stepping on the heads of others. The bastardization of the term, often used by premeds, is someone who studies a lot, works hard and does well, the antonym of "slacker". But that isn't the true definition -- it's sort of like calling someone you disagree with a "fascist". (Assuming arguendo they don't have that political leaning). Thus gunner is a pejorative term and you do not want to be considered one.
  4. bcat85

    bcat85 10+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2007
  5. Sounds pretty far-fetched.
  6. 172858

    172858 America = The New Texas 2+ Year Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    Wow. That sounds like it's straight out of a dictionary or something. Who the hell are you, Webster? :laugh:
  7. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Lactate > 15
    I assume this is all a joke, but if not, I will resort to my usual pedantic self. The phase " to gun for" means to seek out (as in hunt -- "to gun for bear"). This has been morphed to the idiomatic "gunning for" (e.g. "Bob is gunning for a promotion"). Someone who is gunning, thus becomes a gunner. It's my best guess. (ref:

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  8. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    That leaves out the necessary component of getting what you want by compromising relationships, which is the critical component of being a gunner. A gunner is not just someone who works hard and does well. Meaning you can be gunning for a promotion, but if you are a gunner, you will sabotage others to get that promotion, not just get it on your own merits.

    As I mentioned on another thread, it's that old joke about two campers who come across a grizzly bear. A gunner is the one who knows he doesn't have to be able to outrun the bear, just the other camper. So he does what he can to trip him up. This is not a label you want. You see some degree of this in medical (and law) school. Other classmates who are more obsessed with how others are doing than learning the material. In the early years it tends to be people who try to psych others out, or who disseminate useless info in the hopes of wasting people's time, or in PBL presentations read ahead on other people's topics to stump them. In the clinical years it sometimes manifests itself into folks making others look bad in front of attendings, or volunteering others for unsavory tasks.
  9. Bertelman

    Bertelman Maverick! 10+ Year Member

    Feb 11, 2006
    Had a Cooch

    I like Ed's explanation better. The origin of the term doesn't need to explain every characteristic we have come to associate with gunner. It's easy enough to tell from these boards that the term is used differently by various people. Where I went to school, the term tended to apply to people who overexerted themselves. There was no motivation to do so at the expense of others, so we never heard stories of hacked cadavers, stolen textbooks or other med school warnings.

    Studying all night in the library while everyone else parties = gunner.

    Compromising relationships in an attempt to further your own needs = dick
  10. HawkeyePostOp

    HawkeyePostOp the fort at sidewalk 5+ Year Member

    It sucks that gunner is so often pejorative. I like the studying in the library while everybody else parties definition. If someone is disseminating useless information, they're just pathetic, and don't deserve to be labeled with a word that sounds as cool as "gunner".
  11. HanginInThere

    HanginInThere 5+ Year Member

    May 24, 2007
    the library
    Or in scuba diving terms, the gunner is the one who knows that you carry a knife because you don't have to swim faster than the shark, just faster than your dive buddy.
  12. EpiPEN

    EpiPEN Aegis of Immortality 2+ Year Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    La Jolla
    silly, that's a knifer, or maybe harpooner depending on what you are carrying

    Maybe if it was the military... but out running your dying friend might not stop the enemies...

    But maybe out running your injured crime buddy will shake the police off of you while they arrest him/her
  13. Lacheln

    Lacheln Cavorting in the Hills 10+ Year Member

    Mar 31, 2005
    Haha :laugh: We also joke about that because the slowest guy in the group I dive with is also the only one with a knife.
  14. mk8

    mk8 2+ Year Member

    May 14, 2008
    Arlington, VA
    im more curious about the etiology (har har).. if we can figure out how are conceived, we can more easily end them.
  15. EpiPEN

    EpiPEN Aegis of Immortality 2+ Year Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    La Jolla
    Uh huh, I'm sure this is what your post looked like BEFORE you edited it ;)

    *removing all personal information from SDN profile...*:)

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