Etymology 1From gunslinger by shortening.
Usage notesNote: The two meanings are believed to have originated concurrently but independently. gunsel: Or: gonsil / gonzel / gonsel : A 19 th century term of German and Yiddish (little goose) derivation for a young, inexperienced gay male. See sodomite for synonyms.
The former usage - a gun-toting hoodlum - derives from Dashiel Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon". Hammett's publisher at the time refused to allow any rude or profane terminology in his publication. Hammett slipped in "gunsel" - a street term for a young, gay man - as a joke. Since it is used throughout the book to refer to the character of Wilmer - a gun-toting thug - most people erroneously assumed that is what it meant and it stuck.
Cain, Mafioso, Young Turk, apache, assassin, assassinator, auntie, beast, beldam, berserk, berserker, bi-guy, bisexual, bloodletter, bloodshedder, bomber, bravo, bruiser, brute, bull dyke, burker, butch, butcher, button man, cannibal, catamite, chicken, cutthroat, demon, desperado, devil, dragon, dyke, eradicator, executioner, exterminator, fag, faggot, fairy, femme, fiend, fire-eater, firebrand, flit, fricatrice, fruit, fury, garroter, goon, gorilla, gun, gunman, gunslinger, hardnose, hatchet man, head-hunter, hell-raiser, hellcat, hellhound, hellion, hit man, holy terror, homicidal maniac, homicide, homo, homophile, homosexual, homosexualist, hood, hoodlum, hooligan, hothead, hotspur, incendiary, invert, killer, lesbian, mad dog, madcap, man-eater, man-killer, manslayer, massacrer, matador, monster, mug, mugger, murderer, muscle man, nance, pansy, pathic, pesticide, plug-ugly, poison, poisoner, punk, queen, queer, rapist, revolutionary, rodman, roughneck, sapphist, savage, she-wolf, slaughterer, slayer, spitfire, strangler, strong-arm man, termagant, terror, terrorist, thug, tiger, tigress, torpedo, tough, tough guy, tribade, trigger man, ugly customer, violent, virago, vixen, wild beast, witch, wolf