phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List

Going like gangbusters

Posted by Bob on March 13, 2004

In Reply to: Going like gangbusters posted by ESC on March 12, 2004

: : looking for the origin of the phrase "selling like gangbusters. any help appreciated. thanks!

: Gangbuster - noun. Journalism. A law enforcement officer or officers who is actively and successfully engaged in the breaking up of criminal gangs. Do (or go) gangbusters, from the entertainment business, to be extremely successful. "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.

It was a popular radio show from 1935 with a memorable opening. An excerpt from will help explain the popularity of the word:

But the series returned in revised form to CBS January 15, 1936 under its new title, Gangbusters-which was now devoted weekly to lesser-known (but just as interesting, if not more so) crime cases.

Two particular aspects of Gangbusters were responsible for the show being so well-remembered today; first, the program's classic opening, which ushered in the weekly proceedings with a combination of police whistle and sirens, shuffling feet, screeching tires, gunshots and the rat-a-tat of machine guns. This loud and brash cacophony introduced the slang phrase "coming on like gangbusters" to the American lexicon.