In reading about "griefing" and "smurfing", the term "ganking" came up...is there a good definition for it?

  • 1
    Is this going to be a chain question? Humour aside, I know of one definition (which is not griefing but an actual form of strategy) but don't know if it's necessarily a universal one.
    – Grace Note
    Aug 18, 2010 at 14:34
  • 9
    I would prefer to have a CW version for adding new terms, rather than asking a dozen of these
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 18, 2010 at 14:37
  • Despite the answers both mentioning groups of players, a single player can absolutely gank other players. If you're max level and you're in the first contested zone just killing every lowbie you see, then you're ganking them.
    – Mkalafut
    Apr 30, 2014 at 18:50

8 Answers 8


Ganking is when a big group of players team up on one lone player, usually by surprise. Level differential is not necessary to be called ganking. In many games (mostly MMOs), this is a form of griefing, but in other games it is a legitimate and encouraged strategy.

For example, in DotA, ganking is an integral part to team victory. One player may roam around the map helping to ambush and team up on enemies who get caught out of position.

  • 13
    In World of Warcraft I've always heard the term being used as being killed by a single enemy player. I think it just means being ambushed unexpectedly where one side has the surprise advantage. Aug 18, 2010 at 17:59
  • 2
    In WoW ganking refers to killing that person over and over again and letting him corpse-run (being dead in WoW) back over and over again
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 19, 2010 at 5:02
  • 8
    @Ivo: That's camping, which usually follows a gank, but isn't ganking in itself.
    – Adam Lear
    Aug 19, 2010 at 12:41
  • 1
    @car i agree, in WoW usage its normally some rogue levels above you who pops up out of nowhere and stun-locks you and works you to death
    – mfg
    Aug 19, 2010 at 13:14
  • 3
    "big group of players team up on one lone player" that's not ganking - that's zerging.
    – Amy B
    Dec 18, 2012 at 17:38

Ganking is when a group of player join together to take on a single player. The term probably formed from the words "gang" and "yanking" (the sudden application of large force).

While this strategy can be employed for griefing it is also often applied for "honorable" gameplay.

By combining forces the gang is able to:

  • Take down more advanced players than they could beat individually
  • Take down an equally advanced player more quickly (i.e. before reinforcements arrive or the target is able to flee)
  • Reduce the danger of loosing any individual team member in what would otherwise be a more evenly matched encounter.
  • 3
    possibly "gang" and "kill"
    – chobok
    Apr 10, 2012 at 10:24
  • I'd say it's more likely to have formed from a combination of gang and flank, which is attacking from a side.
    – 3ventic
    Oct 20, 2014 at 2:32
  • @3ventic I find that highly unlikely since in most games there's very little benefit to a flanking attack.
    – Kempeth
    Oct 22, 2014 at 8:18

There's a lot of bad definitions for gank out there (and in here).

Gank, according to wiktionary is:

To kill, ambush, or defeat with little effort; used in online games.

In other words, to attack in a way in which the defender has no chance and rapidly loses, to pick an unfair fight.

And their examples are great:

Our group totally ganked this guy.

If ganking required a group, then why mention the group? One person may gank another.

I hate it when corpse-campers gank me over and over again.

If ganking was repeated killing, why mention that? You may be ganked once or many times.

If ganking was camping a corpse, why mention it? Ganking may or may not involve corpses.

In WoW, ganking is usually one high level character killing one lower level character. This usually occurs in 0-3 seconds - any longer and there is the possibility of escape for the victim. You also see ganking in lower level battlegrounds, where a twinked character can gank a non-twinked character in one or two global cooldowns.

In Eve Online, you have gank squads (they go around killing smaller squads), and you have suicide gankers (they kill you, and then die quickly to the npc system security - but then their alt/buddy comes by and loots you).

  • Yes, this is the definition in WoW that I always understood: "In WoW, ganking is usually one high level character killing one lower level character. This usually occurs in 0-3 seconds - any longer and there is the possibility of escape for the victim". Like, if your character is level 70, and a level 100 character attacks you, then that's ganking. No chance of escape, because killing you would only require 1 hit !!! Considered bad sportsmanship, because you get ZERO honor points (PvP points) for doing it... you're just wasting the other player's time. Feb 4, 2018 at 20:43

Going back over 10 years, it has always just meant one or more players ambushing and defeating another player. "You got ganked!" Kind of like, "you got knocked the ** out!".. Really no special strategy or classification involved.

  • 1
    It's nice to explain why you chose to downvote someone's answer
    – David
    Aug 19, 2010 at 0:46

In EVE: Online, ganking does not necessarily mean the attackers have superior numbers, just that they have an obvious advantage. The most common example is suicide ganking, where one or more players attacks one player, usually a freighter or industrial, in high sec with expectation of being killed by CONCORD shortly afterward. Being in high sec space the victim is unprepared for battle as they are relying on CONCORD to dissuade any would-be attackers.


Ganking is when a big group of high-level players attack a low-level player who has no chance of defending himself. This is considered a form of griefing.


When, in my practice(in WoW) ganking is just series of killing the same player(s). I mean, no matter, how much players attack or what is level difference, but if one player(players) was able to kill another player(s) several times in a row (for any reason, ex: level difference, gear difference, lack of gaming skill, mad skillz or attackers just exceed in quantity, as mentioned above), thats exactly what we name ganking. Just that simple.


Basically is when you got a surprise attack from two or more enemies, usually a large group of enemies, where you have almost no chance in survive. and they don't spend too much resources on you either. Being an "easy kill".

NOTE: A group can be "ganked" by a larger group (e.g 2 versus 5).

The term gank has several meanings, but often implies an overwhelmingly large group killing you and/or your group. ("A 60 Hordie ganked me"" or "Alliance players are ganking lowbies") It frequently carries the implication the attack is overwhelming or otherwise clearly biased against the individual, either being substantial lower in level or having been previously weakened by an unrelated threat.

Successful ganks usually consist of very short fights and depend on tactics like high burst DPS and the ability to hide;



gank (third-person singular simple present ganks, present participle ganking, simple past and past participle ganked)

(transitive, Internet, online gaming, slang) To kill, ambush, or defeat with little effort; used in online games.

  • Our group totally ganked this guy.
  • I hate it when corpse-campers gank me over and over again.


Etymology From German Gang

  • 1
    The etymology for "gank" that you give is not for the English word, it's for the Serbo-Croation word meaning a hall, passage, corridor, from the German noun "Gang" meaning "walk" (as in "I took a walk"). Dec 19, 2012 at 21:12
  • I got the data from the same source that above. I'll look and see what I found about it.
    – Michel
    Dec 20, 2012 at 11:41
  • @MichaelAyres Yes, and that source has definitions, etymology, etc. for the Serbo-Croation word following the stuff about the English word. Easy to see how you got confused. Dec 20, 2012 at 18:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .