like gangbusters

like gangbusters

noun Informal.

  1. a law-enforcement officer who specializes in breaking up organized crime, often by forceful or sensational means.
  2. someone or something having great impact, usually in a positive way.
  3. gangbusters, an outstandingly successful state or situation: We aren’t looking for gangbusters, but we’d like you to pass all your subjects this semester.

adjective Often gangbusters.

  1. of or like a law-enforcement officer who uses rough, aggressive, or sensational tactics in fighting crime: The undercover agents avoided the gangbusters approach.
  2. strikingly effective or successful: a gangbusters year for compact cars.
  3. enthusiastic: I’m not gangbusters over the idea.


  1. go gangbusters, to be extremely successful: The movie went gangbusters.
  2. like gangbusters, with great speed, intensity, vigor, impact, or success: The software market was growing like gangbusters. The hockey team came on at the beginning of the season like gangbusters.

Energetically, forcefully, loudly. For example, This is a soft passage—the horns shouldn’t come in like gangbusters. This expression alludes to a popular radio series entitled Gangbusters, which featured explosive sound effects, such as gunfire and sirens, at the beginning of each episode. [Slang; late 1930s]

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