late 14c., „full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree;“ also „wanton, lewd, lascivious“ (late 12c. as a surname, Philippus de Gay), from Old French gai „joyful, happy; pleasant, agreeably charming; forward, pert; light-colored“ (12c.; compare Old Spanish gayo, Portuguese gaio, Italian gajo, probably French loan-words). Ultimate origin disputed; perhaps from Frankish *gahi (related to Old High German wahi „pretty“), though not all etymologists accept this.
Meaning „stately and beautiful; splendid and showily dressed“ is from early 14c. Of things, „sumptuous, showy, rich, ornate,“ mid-14c. of colors, etc., „shining, glittering, gleaming, bright, vivid,“ late 14c.; of persons, „dressed up, decked out in finery,“ late 14c.
In the English of Yorkshire and Scotland formerly it could mean „moderately, rather, considerable“ (1796; compare sense development in pretty (adj.)).
The word gay by the 1890s had an overall tinge of promiscuity — a gay house was a brothel. The suggestion of immorality in the word can be traced back at least to the 1630s, if not to Chaucer:
Slang meaning „homosexual“ (adj.) begins to appear in psychological writing late 1940s, evidently picked up from gay slang and not always easily distinguished from the older sense:
The association with (male) homosexuality likely got a boost from the term gay cat, used as far back as 1893 in American English for „young hobo,“ one who is new on the road, also one who sometimes does jobs.
Quoting a tramp named Frenchy, who might not have known the origin. Gay cats were severely and cruelly abused by „real“ tramps and bums, who considered them „an inferior order of beings who begs of and otherwise preys upon the bum — as it were a jackal following up the king of beasts“ [Prof. John J. McCook, „Tramps,“ in „The Public Treatment of Pauperism,“ 1893], but some accounts report certain older tramps would dominate a gay cat and employ him as a sort of slave. In „Sociology and Social Research“ (1932-33) a paragraph on the „gay cat“ phenomenon notes, „Homosexual practices are more common than rare in this group,“ and gey cat „homosexual boy“ is attested in Noel Erskine’s 1933 dictionary of „Underworld & Prison Slang“ (gey is a Scottish variant of gay).
The „Dictionary of American Slang“ reports that gay (adj.) was used by homosexuals, among themselves, in this sense at least since 1920. Rawson [„Wicked Words“] notes a male prostitute using gay in reference to male homosexuals (but also to female prostitutes) in London’s notorious Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889. Ayto [„20th Century Words“] calls attention to the ambiguous use of the word in the 1868 song „The Gay Young Clerk in the Dry Goods Store,“ by U.S. female impersonator Will S. Hays, but the word evidently was not popularly felt in this sense by wider society until the 1950s at the earliest.
As a teen slang word meaning „bad, inferior, undesirable,“ without reference to sexuality, from 2000.
„a (usually male) homosexual,“ by 1971, from gay (adj.). In Middle English it meant „excellent person, noble lady, gallant knight,“ also „something gay or bright; an ornament or badge“ (c. 1400).
The Guysexual’s Urban Dictionary for Gay Slang
What’s the shelf life of a clearance sale shirt? What’s the expiry date on a Grindr hookup? Do potatoes count as carbs? If you feel like a potato, are you a carb? Do you need to kick your junk food habits out on the curb (no pun intended)? Are moccasins better than brogues? More importantly, what is a brogue?
When you are gay man, you’ll always be full of questions (when you are not full of self-doubt, that is) — but this is 2018, and some questions, while basic, — will always be more important than the others.
Don’t know whether you are a top or a bottom? Do you feel it’s rude (and very inappropriate) when someone asks you whether you are a slave? Have you always wondered why your friends laughed at you when you said you loved vanilla? Are you surprised that people could be that into otters? More importantly, what is an otter?
It’s 2018, and it’s time for you to get with the times. Whether you are an out-and-proud gay man or an in-the-closet newbie, your dictionary of gay slang will always be as varied as your little black book of boys. So the next time someone tells you they know ‘just the right twink for your daddy charms,’ here’s a little glossary of gay slang to help you understand what they really mean.
Bear: An older, broader hairier man who unlike his namesake, does not need to hibernate.
Beefcake: A gay man who spends most of his time at the gym, and the rest of it scooping spoonfuls of protein supplement into his post-workout shakes.
BJ: A bl*wjob, or when someone wants to make a bl*wjob sound cool.
Bottom: The receptive sexual partner; also known as ‘someone who likes taking it in’.
Buns: Butt or when someone wants to be cute about your butt.
Chubby Chaser: A gay man who likes his sexual partners just like he likes his pillows – soft and cuddly.
C*cksicle: A BJ, again. Or when someone tries to make a bl*wjob sound even cooler, but fails miserably.
Cruise: To seek casual gay sex encounters — usually in restrooms, pubs or sometimes, even by the corner streetlight, so that you can regret them the morning after.
Cub: A younger version of the Bear, heavier than the Otter. May or may not deal with body issues.
Daddy: An older, established man who likes his scotch aged and his boys, young.
Daddy Chaser: A gay man who likes his partners older, richer, but not necessarily wiser.
Discreet: A man who is either in a relationship or in denial, and wants sex on the side.
Dom/Dominant/Master: A gay man who likes to play ‘Who’s the boss?’ in bed. Sexual toys may or may not be involved.
Hershey Highway: When someone wants to make anal sex sound more desirable.
Iron Closet: A gay man who is in such deep denial of his sexuality, he might never step out of the closet.
Kinky: Anything that is not Vanilla sexually, but peach apricot with hazelnuts.
Looking for Networking: A man who travels a lot and is on the lookout for vacation flings. He won’t ever call you back.
NSA: No-strings-attached casual sex, that doesn’t involve feelings or goodbye messages.
Otter: A thinner, younger version of the Bear. Has nothing to do with the animal.
Poz: An out-and-proud HIV Positive man who’s doing what a lot of men out there are not — telling us about his status.
Slam: When someone wants to snort MDMA off your belly button.
Sub/Submissive/Slave: A gay man who likes being bossed around in bed. (Not to be confused with the derogatory term used during the American pre-Civil Rights era.)
The Closet: A place where you keep all your ridiculously expensive clothes, your snug woolens, and yourself, when you are not out to the world. In other words, a gay man who has not told anyone he’s gay.
Tonsil Hockey: When you are kissing someone so fiercely, it could be a competitive sport.
Top: The inserting sexual partner; also known as ‘someone who likes to put it in’.
Vanilla: Someone who likes his sex just like he likes his family values, traditional.
Versatile: A gay man who likes it both ways, but is secretly a bottom.
Wolf: A hairy gay man who’s neither a Bear nor an Otter but floats somewhere in between. Also, may not howl at the moon if you ask him too.
Yestergay: A gay man who now refers to himself as straight. But is not.
Choose the Right Synonym for gay
animatedvivacioussprightlygay mean keenly alive and spirited. lively suggests briskness, alertness, or energy. a lively debate on the issues animated applies to what is spirited and active. an animated discussion of current events vivacious suggests an activeness of gesture and wit, often playful or alluring. a vivacious party host sprightly suggests lightness and spirited vigor of manner or wit. a tuneful, sprightly musical gay stresses complete freedom from care and overflowing spirits. the gay spirit of Paris in the 1920s
Usage of Gay
Use of the noun gay to refer to a particular person („the author is a gay“) or particular people („they are both gays“) is commonly considered offensive. Instead, phrases that employ the adjective are preferred, as in „a gay author,“ „they are both gay,“ etc. The noun does, however, function as a neutral or positive self-descriptor, and in its plural form is common especially in phrases with other plural nouns that relate to sexual orientation and gender identity, as in „the rights of gays and lesbians.“ It is also sometimes used neutrally to refer in a general way to gay people, as in „gays serving in the military.“
Examples of gay in a Sentence
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‚gay.‘ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Dictionary Entries near gay
Statistics for gay
“Gay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, . Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.
Medical Definition of gay
What made you want to look up gay? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Example sentences from the Web for gay
“I do not support gay marriages being recognized in Florida,” he wrote Andrew Walther of Sanford.
That man was Xavier Cortada, a gay man who wrote of his frustration that he and his partner of eight years were unable to marry.
Some gay apps, like the newer Mister, have not subscribed to the community/tribe model.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Bush was flooded with questions about whether gay marriage could possibly come to the Sunshine State.
In the 70s, this myth kept openly gay people out of teaching positions.
Am I not in France—gay, delightful France—partaking of the kindness and civility of the country?
After a moment’s silence, the cavaliers both burst into a gay laugh.
Never had Tom seen his gay and careless cousin in such guise: he was restless, silent, intense and inarticulate.
If it had not been for the presence of Mademoiselle Stéphanie, it would not have been gay for Aristide.
The box of the diplomatic corps was just opposite us, and our gay little Mrs. F. sat in it dressed in white satin.
Cultural definitions for gay
The Most Surprisingly Serendipitous Words Of The Day
How ‘Gay’ Came to Mean ‘Homosexual’
Today I found out how ‘gay’ came to mean ‘homosexual’.
The word “gay” seems to have its origins around the 12th century in England, derived from the Old French word ‘gai’, which in turn was probably derived from a Germanic word, though that isn’t completely known. The word’s original meaning meant something to the effect of “joyful”, “carefree”, “full of mirth”, or “bright and showy”.
However, around the early parts of the 17th century, the word began to be associated with immorality. By the mid 17th century, according to an Oxford dictionary definition at the time, the meaning of the word had changed to mean “addicted to pleasures and dissipations. Often euphemistically: Of loose and immoral life”. This is an extension of one of the original meanings of “carefree”, meaning more or less uninhibited.
Fast-forward to the 19th century and the word gay referred to a woman who was a prostitute and a gay man was someone who slept with a lot of women (ironically enough), often prostitutes. Also at this time, the phrase “gay it” meant to have sex.
With these new definitions, the original meanings of “carefree”, “joyful”, and “bright and showy” were still around; so the word was not exclusively used to refer to prostitutes or a promiscuous man. Those were just accepted definitions, along with the other meanings of the word.
Around the 1920s and 1930s, however, the word started to have a new meaning. In terms of the sexual meaning of the word, a “gay man” no longer just meant a man who had sex with a lot of women, but now started to refer to men who had sex with other men. There was also another word “gey cat” at this time which meant a homosexual boy.
By 1955, the word gay now officially acquired the new added definition of meaning homosexual males. Gay men themselves seem to have been behind the driving thrust for this new definition as they felt (and many still do), that “homosexual” is much too clinical, sounding like a disorder. As such, it was common amongst the gay community to refer to one another as “gay” decades before this was a commonly known definition (reportedly homosexual men were calling one another gay as early as the 1920s). At this time, homosexual women were referred to as lesbians, not gay. Although women could still be called gay if they were prostitutes as that meaning had not yet 100% disappeared.
Since then, gay, meaning homosexual male, has steadily driven out all the other definitions that have floated about through time and of course also has gradually begun supplementing the word ‘lesbian’ as referring to women who are homosexual.
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How to say gay in English
Below are the words of our English Gay Dictionary that we will expand in new editions. But first some information about the language and this dictionary.
English is an Indo-European language spoken by over 500 million people and is official in more than 80 countries and territories. The national varieties of English, as well as Polari slang or Cockney rhyming slang, create specific words from particular regions and others that travel from one place to another while retaining its meaning or exchanging it for another similar or radically different.
Most of the words are from the 19th and 20th centuries, but some date back to the 17th century, so you can find words that are no longer used, but all are useful to unravel how humanity has been linked to the homosexual behavior. There are also current expressions which, with time, we will expand.
The majority of the terms are originally created by straight people, so somehow expressed contempt and hostility that fear of homosexual behavior produced and continues producing, although in many cases the passage of time has been erased all that negativity and ended up being incorporated into normal speech and even into LGBT vocabulary.
Following the classification of Professor William A. Percy we can relate the terms and expressions of our English Gay Dictionary in 4 groups:
3) For effeminate men. The patriarchal feminization, in addition to turning homosexual men into women, by a puerile but tenacious psycho-biological determinism, transfers the worst stereotyped characteristics of women to gay men for the simple fact of being.
To which we have considered interesting add two more groups:
5) The jargon of the gay community, which often is extremely brutal and other rather funny.
6) The jargon of male prisons, that somehow shows the sexual plasticity of men.
The words and expressions of our English Gay Dictionary have been obtained from many different sources, but unlike many of these sources, which are copies from one another, each of the items has been analyzed, investigated, contrasted and expanded within the possibilities. During the making of this dictionary, we have met with the revealing, extensive and excellent work of William Percy, professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, that is collected in the magnificent and extensive Encyclopedia of homosexuality, not quoted as a source but rather as an approach.
great queen. 70s expression of the prison slang for who wears a more feminine look as possible, with shaved legs and plucked eyebrows, etc. This same phenomenon we have seen today, for example, in Latin America prisons, where the transformation of a gay man in a woman may suppose some protection and even survival. Modern prisons in the more developed countries, with vis-à vis-protocols, allow men to have sex with women. The question is whether, although undercover, homosexual behavior still roam freely or not in modern prisons.
it is the first of our expressions with this meaning. Pirate, bandit, thief, rider, kicker… of ass. Although it is a term used in the 80s in gay bashing, Anal buckaneer refers to the active (top) role in sexual relations, that in some sense is masculine and virile, and is opposed, for example, to Ass boy (one man reduced to a single part of his body, the ass, made available to anyone who wants to fuck him), that in the same way serve to insult gays but would establish a different category, because a boy is less manly than a buccaneer or a bandit. Despite as faggot is the top as the bottom, insults let us read between the lines, that the classical systems of homosexual behavior, the teacher-pupil and master-slave, still in force today, so expressions for top gay are less derogatory than the expressions for bottoms.
in this expression, used to insult gays and more specifically to bottoms, two important issues in gay slang come together. On the one hand we have the issue of youth, associated with the passive (bottom) role in sex inherited from Greek master-pupil system, and secondly the loss of masculinity or feminization also associated with the passive role, which it is produced by the reduction of the person to the only usefull, his ass, just as happens with women who are reduced to their pussy. This fact is reinforced with other related expressions such as Boy-Pussy or Gash, where the passive role in sex, femininity and female prostitution are related.
used to call middle-aged or elderly gay men. Some suggest that Aunt(ie) was initially slang of madam, or old prostitute who ran a brothel, producing, as in many cases, a semantic transition from prostitute to homosexual man. It can also be used to call a lesbian who is a mentor or protective of a homosexual man.
Variations Aunty, Auntie, Aunt fancy, Aunt Mame, Aunt Mathilda.
Synonyms Chin-strap, Old man, DOM (Dirty old man), Fallen star, Fallen woman, Flea bagger, Fleadum (60’s, probably a variant of Fleadoom, a brand of flea), Fleet bagger, Geritol set (Geritol is a famous brand of multivitamins), Grandma, Gray lady, Grimm’s fairy, Old girl, Old goat, Old hen, Old one, Old thing, Old queen, Old queer, Pruneperson, Rancid flower, Soiled senior citizen, Weel-chair set. These expressions indicate that, regrettably, in the gay world, youth is a treasure and old age a crime.
Related Ginch, Hump, Kife, Twidget, Skippy. All related to the sense of slut, bad woman, prostitute, etc, that have been used to insult gay people.
The meaning of Aunt Mame is aunt mom and is used to name middle-aged gay men. This expression is related to the 1958 film “Auntie Mame”, in which a middle-aged woman takes care of her orphaned nephew, educating him by extravagant lifestyle. A film with many signs to the gay audience, as you can see in the frame below, becoming an icon, which got through censorship, and has several Academy Award nominations and winning a pair of Golden Globes.
A frame of the film Auntie Mame in which you can see two cross-dressing women, two Kesser Vater.
Term from Jamaica, derived from the word bottom that has the meaning of passive, used to name pejoratively to homosexuals. Also translated as crazy or crackpot. In Jamaica homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment for men and totaly legal for women, but beatings and death are for twice. Word used in USA. Derogatory intention.
expression of the gay jargon used to name Mexican homosexuals. Also used to name the Drag Queen of Latin origin, as well as homosexual men who like Latin men.
Synonyms Carmen Carmencita, Freejack, Freecat, Hot enchilada, Hot tamale, Joto, Mexicali Rose, Miss Morales, Senoreater (the Spanish word “señorita” pronounced by an American), Spanish Rose, South-of-the-border tart (of the late 60s), Tijuana queen, Taco queen.
The literal translation of the expression Beard lady would be Miss Beard, and it is an expression of the gay jargon used to name women used by homosexual men as reinforcement of masculinity to avoid suspicions about their homosexuality.
expression used in the late 19th century to appoint gay men, which origin is in the same British slang expression to appoint women prostitutes. Female prostitution is also present at the origin of many insults for homosexuals, especially with passive sexual role, because many of the terms, related to prostitution, for attacking women, are used to insult gay men because they are considered as the worst kind of women. Some argue that such common words as “Gay”, “Fag” and “Faggot”, in a previous slang, had the sense of sexually dissolute women, promiscuous, libertine, etc.
bathroom Queen. Gay slang expression for calling those who frequent the baths and public wc looking for sexual encounters. Oddly enough there was a time when there was no Internet, or the Grindr, nor Bender nor Wapo … and men meet men for sex as they could. Public toilets of the train and bus stations and also public parks became really torrid places. In the United States, for example, there were policemen who insinuate other men in these places to catch and arrest homosexuals.
Synonyms Bathsheba (composition between bathroom and Sheba to create a name reminiscent of the Queen of Sheba), Ghost (50s, ghost, because they wander the corridors of the bathroom).
is a widely used word to define the preferred sex role to the case of passive gays. Passive gays are those that are penetrated in sexual intercourse.
Synonyms Bang (mid 60s in Los Ángeles), Bender, Brownie queen, Browning queen, Browning-sister, Bum boy, Passive partner, Bottomless pool, Boy-pussy, Boy-snatch, Boy-cunt, Bronc, Bronk, Gash, Gentleman pussy, Jere, Mustard-pot, Nooky, Opened up, Peg boy (In the 19th century in the brothels, they forced the boys to sit on a stake to dilate the anus), Punk (the meaning is callow youth, the youth related with the passive role in sex. In prison slang, it could also mean prostitute and who is constantly oppressed and violated), Pussy, Sea-pussy, Sister, Spread, Tailbone, Wife.
this word could be interpreted as “wild colt that needs to be tamed.” Related to homosexuality could refer to a young and inexperienced guy, requiring dressage by a man through anal sex.
Buff Tied is a guy who is very fit, handsome, hot, fuckable and fabulous, all in one, but seems to be derogatory. It could be a variant of the Scottish word “Bufty” used to insult gays, probably because it also has the meaning of coward.
expression of the 30s to appoint an effeminate gay man. It is also the name of a flower. But we do not know if its relationship with homosexuality comes from the flower and its relation with femininity, or from one of its literal meaning, cup of butter, relating the cup with the ass, or also from its relation with the butt, slang of ass.
The slang Butterfly could have several meanings, effeminate homosexual or act so effeminate, and also is used to name the bottom in the anal intercourse. The butterfly is often associated with male homosexuality, as with the case of the Spanish language with the words Mariposa (Butterfly) and Mariposón (Big butterfly).
animal or chicken castrated. The lack of testicles has always been related to the lack of virility and the inability to have children, issues that have traditionally been assigned to gay or effeminate men.
dismissal from the army for homosexuality. The participation of gay men in the United States Army has always been controversial. Recently, in 2011, ended the directive “don’t ask, don’t tell” that banned homosexuality in the army, but also ask, inquire and tell.
Variations Donald duck, Green discharge, Blue discharge.
man, gay or not, who dresses as a woman to perform different spectacle types, dressing and acting in a manner exaggeratedly feminine. Although it may seem a purely frivolous issue, there is a background, not always conscious, which aims to make fun of dichotomous notions of gender and sexual roles in society and culture. And there is not only drag queens, but there are other types such as Drag King (woman who dresses and acts like a man in an exaggerated way), Drag Princess (Young drag queen), Drag Butch (woman who dresses and acts like a man without caricature), as well as Faux Queen and Faux King,that are the people who dress and act caricaturing its own genre.
Related Bag lady (ugly or unpleasant Drag Queen), Barbie (foolish Drag Queen), Bean Queen, Bone smuggler, DQ (acronym), San Francisco clones (expression of the gay jargon to name the Drag Queens or very masculine lesbians).
effeminate diminutive of the word used to insult men or boys who are. Most insults for gay men fall into the categories of male passivity and effeminacy, involving the lack or waiver of one’s masculinity. By contrast, the terms for homosexuals with active (top) sexual role, rarely involve the loss of femininity or masculinity, which could reinforce the idea that homosexual behavior is more abundant than it might seem, considering that insults for active (top) men in anal intercourse generally have a radically different tone and instead of being “like women” are bandits, pirates, buccaneers, thieves, etc.
it is widely known that when there are restrictions on sex with women, men tend to show homosexual behavior, as in prisons. This is possible thanks to pluripotency or plasticity of sexuality. However facultative homosexuality express the idea that a hererosexual man can show homosexual inclinations and have sexual desire for a man and act accordingly, and after his release from prison back to his heterosexual life. This remains a sublimation, because excuse homosexual behavior, in the sense that men have homosexual relationships because they have no choice, as if it were a lesser evil instead a human capacity. It remains to be seen, in this return to heterosexuality, if not actually is the beginning of a bisexual life.
expression that appears in the 20s to point to an effeminate gay man or boy. Some authors suggest that this slang comes from a previous slang and that relates women with prostitution because in origin fag means sexually dissolute, promiscuous, libertine woman, etc. So by converting gay men in poor women, they would be converted in turn into whores. Fag also means cigarette and hard work.
Variations Fagateeny (80s, also for gay teen), Faggot, Fagg, Fagot, Faggotry, Faggoty, Faggy.
Related Fag hag, Fag stag, Fag bag (woman married to a gay man).
woman who likes to be with and date gay men. The word “hag” means old, ugly, witch woman, giving the sense of a single woman who dates with queers. An entirely different hue with the similar expression for men, Fag Stag.
recent coined term to name the straight man who likes the company of gay people. Stag is the male of any animal species, specifically deer. As you may notice, when the idea comes to a woman it is a ugly woman, and when it comes to a man is a male. The claw of patriarchy comes to all places and collectives.
The meaning of the word faggot is firewood, cigarette and also it is used to name a heavy work. It is one of the most used words to name homosexual men around the world. The origin of this slang may be that it was the symbol of heretics, marked with fire in their skin in the Middle Ages in the United Kingdom (the heretics were never executed at the stake in the United Kingdom). However, the first appearance as a slang for homosexual man is located in the United States. Check our post from Gay Slang Collection to learn more about this well-known and international expression.
T-shirt with the Faggot drawing. You can purchase it in our online stores.
a flip-collar is one of the complements of priests clothing, weared in the neck. This expression from gay jargon refers to a homosexual priest and even a pedophile or pederast priest.
Flip-flop is an expression of gay slang indicating that a person is bisexual or versatile in their sexual relationships, as people commonly use it to describe a radical change, a 180-degree change, or a change of heart. This could indicate the misunderstanding that the bisexual community suffers within the gay community. Flip-flop has another meaning, also from gay slang, to refer to the exchange of top and bottom roles in gay intercourse, as you can see if you look for this expression on any porn website.
today means to make gay sex. It could be an anagram of the word Poof, meaning effeminate or homosexual man, and in this sense it was used in Australia in the early 20th century, and in the 70s in the United States in the sphere of male colleges.
Its the most universal and internationally way to name homosexual men, that is, men who show inclination towards erotic and emotional relationship with individuals of the same sex.
paradigmatic expression used for appointing a homosexual man, especially for effeminate ones and also with passive (bottom) sexual role.
The key to understanding the large number of expressions for passive (bottom) or effeminate gays is the supposed reversal of gender and sex roles when someone takes, or seems to have, a behavior considered “natural” or “appropriate” for the opposite sex.
According to this Manichean scheme, a homosexual with passive (bottom) sexual role should be in some sense, a woman; even a man who is raped is considered to have lost their manhood and in fact becomes a woman. Many slang terms for passive homosexual personify directly as a vagina or anus (Gash, Boy-pussy, Bumboy); Another common procedure is to use a word that has female reference as is the use of a woman’s name (Mary,Pansy, Marjery); or can be any of the large number of words commonly used for women (fem, bich, wife); or else a word that refers to the stereotypical female behavior (limp-wrist, flit, swish).
as we have found, truckers called gays with this expression, but it is also used outside that sector. The literal interpretation would be “silly kisser”, which could refer to the contrast between the hardness of truck drivers and gays, however “goober” in sailor’s slang means cock, so the sense of Goober Smoocher could be to “cock-sucker” very enthusiastic or applied.
King is an expression of gay jargon appeared in San Diego in the late 60s, to name masculine gay people, active (top) in anal intercourse and even butch lesbians.
T-shirt with the Khing design of the Thai Gay Dictionary, with the same meaning as the English King. You can purchase it in our online stores.
archaic medical term for homosexuality. Years ago, a lack of understanding of homosexuality made various forms of sexual diversity were confused, so often homosexuals were called hermaphrodites.
Related Morphodite, Morphydite, Morphrodite, y Moffie (South Africa) are all variations (corruptions) of the word hermaphrodite.
walk, move or act with affected elegance. Mince in a sense corresponds to the stereotype of the gait of homosexuals, so usually this word is related to homosexuality, even within the gay community, as in Cape Town (South Africa), which can be used to name passive homosexuals. Mince may also correspond to the stereotyped way of moving of the women, so this could also be the origin of the slang.
Loan expression of the Spanish language with Latin American origin to name homosexual men. The word Pato were used to call clumsy men, boobies, teased, etc., negative characteristics that always have been led to gay men and is, in this process of identifying, where is the origin of this expression to insult gays in Latin America, which use has spread to other countries.
The Pato drawing printed on a white t-shirt. You can purchase it in our online stores.
prim, prudish, puritanical. Are stereotyped ways of how women are, applied to gay men.
Variations Prissy queen (gay jargon expression to appoint a snooty gay, prim, snob, etc.)
Related Limp-Wrist, Broken-wrist, Flit, Mince, Swish
The neutral word queer, derived from the German “que” that means twisted, deviant, not acquired overtly sexual connotations until 1920, when was commonly used to refer homosexuals. “Queer” enjoyed great popularity among gay men who took it to define themselves until 1930, when it began to spread the use of the word gay. (Explanation from the book “El Laberinto Queer” by Susana Lopez Penedo).
literally it means to swagger, show off. A term used to name the passive (bottom) homosexual or who acts in feminine way. Derived from the type of movement in ballet, the chassé, which became very popular from 1836 by the success of a group dance, the “square-dance” in which one of the movements was the chassé, which ended pronounced as sashay. One way to move or walk associated with male homosexuality.
expression of the black community in the 20s, to refer to the lover who maintains his girl, which is especially young. Over time, this expression becomes also used by the LGBT community, either gay or Tomboy lesbians.
Synonyms Angel, Papa gâteau (cake dad, French expression with the same meaning), Santa Claus.
expression of the 30s from the scope of the male schools, to indicate that someone was gay, because the word Fag has 3 letters, and comes from the custom of qualifying or reward with letters, sporting or academic achievements.
very used expression to define the preferred role sex in anal intercourse for the case of active men. Active gay is who fucks other.
Synonyms Active, Arse-king, Arse Bandit, Ass bandit, arse-burglar, Ass raider, Back-door man, Backgammoner, Bang artist (Bang is the bottom, the passive in anal intercourse), Biscuit-bandit (cake is jargon of anus), BK (Acronym used in ads in United Kingdom), Bodyguard (the late 60), Booty-bandit (booty means little ass), Boretto ma (little bore), Boring a bud (drill), Bottle opener), Brown artist (mid-60s, brown are faeces), Brown hatter (mid-60), Brownie king (United Kingdom), Bucket (it comes from slang for ass or from a type of destroyer ship), Buey, Bugger, Buggerantoes, Bum-fugger, Bummer, Bun-bandit, Bunny cake, Deadeye dick, Dirt tamper (40s, ass saboteur), Dirt-track rider, Dung-pusher, Eye doctor (where it is the eye of the ass), Forty-niner (Name who received the first searchers in the gold rush, which in the 40s was used for active gays), Gander, Gonif (thief, scoundrel, swindler), Gooser (50s, which touches the ass), Greek, Gut-reamer (Stretcher intestines), Gut-stretcher (Stretcher intestines), Gut-stuffer (filler intestines), Humper and a pumper (70s, who catch and pump), Inspector of manholes , Keester-bandit (from back), King (late 60s in San Diego), Knight of the golden grummet (golden grummet would be the anus), Miner (mid 60s, Pitch o Pitcher (from baseball), Poo-jabber, Pratt-man (pratt means ass), Pratt-hunter, Rear specialist, Rider, Ring snatcher (ring kidnapper, were ring means anus), Sodomite, Tom fucker (from United Kingdom), Top drawer (first class), Turd-packer (turd is a piece of shit).
term used for a gay man with an uncontrollable sexual desire, which seeks and needs sex constantly. Also it used to call men in prostitution as well as to name among friends.
Synonyms Barbarella (70s), Cheap thing, Chuspanel, Club date, Cruise (from cruising), Delilah, Dirty lay (60s), Dirty thing, Fallen woman, Floozy (slut), Garbage woman, Ginny woman (street woman or wild woman), Ground woman, Gutter limits (limits of obscenity), Hussy (shameless), Jezebel (biblical character who takes her people, Israel, to sexual immorality), Lay of the land, Man trap, Privates investigator (genital investigator), Satyriasis o Satyromania (from satyr, medical term for oversexed), Scarlet woman, Scrub-woman (despicable woman, groped woman), Slut, Swamp woman (stalker woman, Texas 40s), Tart (bitch, in the UK), Thirty-day boy (United Kingdom), Wear a change belt, Wild thing, Working girl, Horndog (dog with a boner).
1.someone who is sexually attracted to persons of the same sex
Someone who is sexually attracted to persons of the same sex
closet queen (a negative term for a homosexual man who chooses not to reveal his sexual orientation)
fagfaggotfagotfairynancepansypoofpoovepoufqueenqueer (offensive term for a homosexual man)
cheerful (being full of or promoting cheer; having or showing good spirits)
Given to social pleasures often including dissipation
indulgent (characterized by or given to yielding to the wishes of someone)
homosexual (sexually attracted to members of your own sex)
gay (someone who is sexually attracted to persons of the same sex)
gayness (a sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) persons of the same sex)
He spoke cheerfully: the tones set my heart at ease.
I want our pet to like me, and be as as a butterfly.
She is in spirits and full of life and cheerfulness.
I was very young, and associated only with the young, and we were a thoughtless, set, without any strict rules of conduct.
That is the first question, you know, said Miss Crawford, trying to appear and unconcerned, which every woman who plays herself is sure to ask about another.
We returned to our college on a Sunday afternoon: the peasants were dancing, and every one we met appeared and happy.
„I’m sorry to be troublin‘ you with me foolish spache,“ he said regretfully. „I mint nothin‘ by it. ‚Tis a great day for Michael Dennin, an‘ he’s as as a lark.“
„If that’s the way he’s going to grow up, I wish he’d stay a boy,“ she thought, with a curious sense of disappointment and discomfort, trying meantime to seem quite easy and .
When they all sat down it was better; to her taste a great deal better, for Frank Churchill grew talkative and , making her his first object.
How did you miss this photo for your montage on the right of the article?!?!?
Your article left out some important information. While the use of gay did become used in reference to homosexuality in much the way you say, it was by far NOT the most common term in use, nor the prefered term prior to about the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, The Gay Liberation Front was formed to fight for homosexual rights.
The name chosen by this important early activist group is the main reason gay became the politically correct term instead of any of the many more common terms in use before then. You can find much more info about this on the website “I Want My Gay Back!!!” You will also find a list of much better words for refering to a persons sexual preference that are not based on previous stereotypes.
Gay is a stereotype, it’s time to start using better
We’ve always had the correct word Homosexual. Says exactly what it is! I can call myself whatever i want but I’m still Heterosexual by any other name. I suppose that’s it! I’m happy with my sexual orientation so I can only assume anyone that isn’t happy would look for another word to avoid what they actually are or is that too simple for you?
Yes. Let’s choose a different word. The term gay, in my opinion, is a term that was co-opted by men within a very heteronormative society, but the term gay doesn’t encompass all of our humanity. Being physically and emotionally desirable of men, is only a portion of who we are. Plus, the term gay, to me, is a negative stereotype even though it’s used by “gay” people. We needed something to help us feel a sense of belonging.
Jesus would slap the shit out of you! If is is so sinful what are you doing on this site?
Newer evidence indicates that the “men shall not lay with men” part of the bible my actually be a mistranslation. The original Bible was written in Hebrew, then it was translated into Greek, then eventually it was translated into over 600 different languages including English. It is more likely that the original text was “man shall not lay with boy” referring to pedophilia, not homosexuality.
Actually, you are wrong. The term gay, from french ‘gai’, meant a man who was a bit loose with the women and had many admirers so it has its roots in a kind of sin of lust. Also it meant frolicsome, impetuous, lascivious and lewd almost like a leprechaun or some clown like archetype. Happy but in the superficial sense is what the word gay came from. The word was hijacked and subverted basically for political motives during the 60’s and 70’s during the moral subversion of christian democracies. Now the word has been hijacked again and is used as a derogatory term, so a word that once meant happy and spriteful became homosexual and now means no good, rubbish, that’s subversion.
I can’t believe the gay community, who claimed the word for a PC title had it highjacked (and it is gone, the brits have confirmed it now means lame) by a bunch of 14 yr old suburban Justin Bieber-lookin’, skateboard-ridin’ breeders.
It’s true that us teenage Britons use the word ‘gay’ in the form of slang describe something as degenerate, e.g. ‘That film is so gay…’ but we still use it as the euphemism for homosexuals. It’s both a noun and an adjective ? A friend of mine told me he was gay back when I first met him, he literally said “I’m gay.” The people I know who are gay, doesn’t mind being referred to as ‘gay’. I guess some people are just overly PC, which is annoying because they can come across as quite self-righteous sometimes, and I despise self-righteousness with the passion…
We also, in America, use the term gay in a negative way. More so within heteronormative culture by straight people. I think most gay people are comfortable with the term gay is because we’ve adapted it as an identity to help us feel a sense of belonging and community. But it still doesn’t mean it’s not a negative stereotype kind of word. I personally want to redefine what gayness means
Why no reference to the use of the word “gay” in songs such as the Flintstones theme, Deck the Halls and a bunch of other songs form the 40’s and 50’s.
Great response Pat Smith. Gay, Fag, Butch, LGBT, queen, queer………………I love them all. Just saw a great variety show at the Columbia in New Westminster, a fundraiser for Gay Pride activities in Augus. Google it and join us. Heels and Hills is not to be missed. Is was great to see that Doma is No-mora. A victory, but the work continues.
I live in San Francisco n have always wondered how “gay” became a euphemism for homosexuality. I first heard it referred to that way in the wonderful Katherine Hepburn/Cary Grant movie from 1938 ‘Bringing Up Baby’, when Grant spins about in a negligee and shouts “I’m Gay! I’m Gay!”
As it turned out he was, just wasn’t something to admit too back then when you were an actor.
I was born in 1951 and, from earliest youth, have always been deeply interested in English-language usage (and also majored and minored in foreign languages). Sir, your article contains some errors, probably because you relied, not on personal experience, but on untrustworthy sources. Pat Smith is absolutely correct in pointing out that “gay” did not become widely used to mean “homosexual” until the 1970s. I can testify to the fact that the people of the 1950s and 1960s, in the rare cases that they would mention homosexuality, would use the terms, “fag” and “queer,” never “gay.” [Ironically, some homosexual activists now call themselves “queer,” and one has taken on the alias, “Luke Sissyfag.”] Sir, you were wrong to write that “By 1955, the word gay now officially acquired the new added definition.” Not only was your date far off, but there is no such thing as “official” acquisition of definitions in English, because there is no “official” arbiter. Moreover, the word, “gay” is not fully equivalent to the word, “homosexual.” Rather, “gay” is used to mean, “one who insists on the moral acceptance of homosexual acts.” The truth is that the many people with same-sex attraction who believe that chastity is required of them REFUSE to call themselves “gay.”
References are Merriam-Webster, the OED, and lexicographers the world over. There is no such thing as an official definition in English because there is no governing style. The only way something can be official in language is if there is a governing party that regulates it, and that is not the function of a dictionary or style guide. I have a four-year university degree in English and study lexicography, particularly descriptive linguistics. There is zero evidence whatsoever to support the idea that there is such a thing as an official definition of a word, only the most popular way people have been observed to use a word in the past. Dictionary entries for words themselves are listed in that order because lexicographers who research past word usage keep tabs on how frequently particular words are used and how they are used (by observation, not by rules) and the first definition is the most popular way to use it, the second the second-most, and so on, down to a threshold the publisher arbitrarily on their own decides is low enough to stop listing. There can be styles that have rules, such as the medical or legal fields or companies like the Associated Press which has a style that it requires all of its writers to obey, but those styles do not govern English itself because English has no rules. All grammar and dictionary “rules” are actually just observations, in a similar way that Twitter hashtags list only ways people have previously used a hashtag, not limitations on the only way you’re allowed to use one.
That was the most unnecessary, fluffed-out explanation I have ever read.
Language is subjective. There you have it. That explains it.
The issue of dating “GAY” can only be solved by findiing legit examples of its usage in old books, movies and TV footage. Personally, from all I’ve ever read and watched, I’ve never come across any instances of the word “gay” in anything written or filmed between the 1930s and 1980s. Back in 1920s, the word meant “fun” and in the 1980s it came to mean “homo buttfuckus” (a new species of humans), but in the decades between it was not used AT ALL.
“Fags” and “queers” are, of course, easy to verify as being in common usage as early as 1940s. Trying finding “gay” there.
fred had a gay old time in a childrens cartoon. so gay had no sex reference then. its much more recent aling with hijacking the rainbow
Have a yabba Dabba doo time we’ll have a gay old time
I failed to mention one final matter. I am glad to read about kids beginning to use the word, “gay,” with a meaning that is not related to sexuality. I hope that this will cause society to stop using the term to refer to homosexual activists. The reason I say this is not prejudice, but rather my respect for the widespread use of the word in literature — and especially in classic song lyrics of the 19th and 20th Centuries — with its original meaning (joyful, carefree). We who are attracted to the opposite sex should be able to read/write about, speak of, and sing about, ourselves as “gay” without misleading people.
A new expression is establishing, not only in English, but in other languages as well…“I’m am not (throw your preferred prejudice), but…”, almost every time means that the person holds that prejudice, but tries to pass as a polite one.“Gay” has spread, mostly through cultural colonization, meaning homosexual men, and some idiom purists here even tried to adapt to “guei” (the transliteration in Portuguese), but, of course, didn’t catch.
… “sporty” with girls and “artistic” for boys….I wonder if this was a consideration when a certain Melanie Chisholm adopted the handle ‘Sporty Spice’.
To AnUnSi- Your comment that to the extent persons referred to homosexuality in the 50s and 60s they did not use the term “gay” is dead wrong. The first time I heard the word “gay” as referring to homosexuality was in 1966 from a fellow freshman student in high school. He lived in the lower east side of Manhattan and was straight. Clearly in urban areas with significant homosexual populations the term gay was in common use by the 60s. As far as your resentment regarding the pervasive use of the term gay to describe homosexuals today, get over it. Gay rights and the ability of folks to be what they are rather than living a lie are among the few beacons of light in an otherwise reactionary anti-democratic stage in this nation’s checkered history.
I believe you’re both speaking from personal experience, and it could be that whichever regions you repsectively dwelt in at the time became more popular to use the term than the other and was merely unable to directly observe the usage. Etymonline suggests the earliest known reference of “gay” to mean homosexual comes from a 1947 reference text, and speculates that the term came about as an earlier reference to a ‘young hobo’ from 1893-1910. It also notes that the Dictionary of American Slang states gay was used as a term in 1920 between homosexuals to describe each other.
As a side note, words don’t “mean” something in terms of being like a rule — they only mean what the speaker intends them to mean, and nothing else. If someone says they meant “two-story apartment” or “banana-flavored toothpaste” or whatever else when they personally use the word gay, that IS what it means when they use it. The meaning of words is defined by the speaker of the word, and the dictionary only lists the most popular ways the largest number of people have used it. A dictionary is not a rule system that people must obey for fear of using a word “wrong” because using a word wrong is impossible, for there is no governing party except within a specific style by which corrections may only be credibly made between users of that specific style.
It is funny. While I agree with everything you say, I cannot agree completely. It does not compute that “it depends on what the meaning of is is.” While there are no official rules of English, we do have generally accepted meanings for words. Without that, we would not be able to communicate.
Give us a break, Claudio! You don’t want people to “get over it.” You want people to embrace it.
Of course, for that to happen will require the true “beacons of light” to be hidden under a bushel. Ironic, isn’t it?!
Pat Smith, you used the term sexual preference, but it is not considered acceptable usage anymore because it implies choice. The proper term is sexual orientation.
I am surprised that no one has mentioned that Cary Grant’s ad lib of “gay” to mean homosexual may have been due to his own special knowledge, since it was likely he was gay (though he was notoriously private and no one who knew him has verified it with certainty). It is a delicious irony since it was not known to the general public. Or was that too obvious to everyone here?
Cary Grant was not gay. When he did a picture with Sophia Loren he fell madly in love with the time she was with the man she later married—Ponte?No big deal if Grant was gay, but I don’t think he was.
I knew this years and years before Rock Hudson announced he had AIDS and was gay. Believe this–Gomer Pile (Jim Neighbors) was his lover. Jim was, to be delicate, well put together–extremely large. I’m suprised Jim is still alive and living in Hawaii. Hudson must have gotten AIDS after neighbors.
The push for the word marriage is nothing more than a scam to try to grab some dollars. The ridiculous dollars being given by the liberal judges is assine. What about the christian who went to a gay bakery and asked for a bible formed cake with some scriptures, none of which referred to homosexually and the bible and they refused to bake it. When he went to the law to complain it was told he didn’t have a complaint. The law is the same for all or it doesn’t exist in the USA. What is this crap??
Please knock it off. I’m a liberal, and I agree that the cake should have been baked. I’m not a lawyer, let alone a judge, but if you’re in business, you’re in business for you just trolling for responses, or were you backlashing at people who don’t accept Evangelical Christianity as the only true belief? What’s your real motive?
Of course, as a liberal, you think the cake should have been baked. Liberals, for the most part, think that religious convictions should only be held in church and not in your day to day life. Why have none of these same sex couples gone to Muslim bakeries to get their wedding cakes done? Muslim bakeries would not do them either, but they are a favorite of the libs these days, so you cannot do anything to offend them.
Grant was not gay, he was a gentleman and a good looking one …
Have you never heard of Neil Patrick Harris? A very good-looking gay gentlemen.
Gay men can be just as attractive as straight men, gay men are just as gentlemanly (if not more, in certain cases) as straight men. Cary Grant being a good-looking gentleman in no way informs anyone of his sexual orientation.
And for those of you arguing over whether he was gay or straight – bisexual is ALSO an option, one that people still tend to overlook these days. It’s not impossible that Cary Grant could have been a man who appreciates BOTH men and women. Not that it matters, the man’s been dead for 30 years. We can’t ask him so there’s no use in speculating.
I was reading a book written in the 19th century. In it was a description of a brief encounter between two men. An unfriendly character approached a cheerful fellow where they had a short, tense conversation. The former ended by shouting at the other and leaving The author wrote, “After a brief but intense intercourse, he ejaculated in the face of the gay man.” Doesn’t mean even close to the same thing anymore.
That’s priceless! Do you happen to know what book it was, if you’re still around after 5 years?
This article states that as early as the 1980s American youth started using the word gay to mean lame or stupid but we were saying that in school in the 1970s. “That movie’s so gay” “You’re so gay”. I don’t know when they started using the word gay to mean lame and stupid but it was before the 1980s.
So have missed out the words first transformation. In the folk song Broomfield Hill the opening lines are; “It’s of a Lord in the North Country, He courted a lady gay”. It goes on to tell a story of a powerful woman. Queen Elizabeth 1st was considered to be such a Lady Gay. The kind of woman who would hunt and wear items of men’s clothing to do so. This included feathers in their hats. Previously only men hunted and only men wore feathers in their hats or caps.
So the association with strong women was born. By the mid 1700s you needed to be a strong woman to be a whore. The slip back into something pretty was a result in women becoming more subjugated during the industrial revolution. Victorian whores were more likely to be ‘run’ by men.
You are way too ignorant be an authority on the English language. Gay never meant anything sexual before the 70s. It was just a fun word meaning bright and colorful, happy and joyous. Anything along those lines, not a penis or anus in sight. Anybody older then 60 will tell you how regrettable it was that homosexuals appropriated the word to describe what they’re doing to each other in bathroom stalls.
I just wish everyone was as passionate about civil rights of all kinds as they are about who calls who what. It is true that there is no authority on the English (British and all other varieties: American, Australian, &c.) language; would anyone care to adopt the French system? If the Academie Francaise doesn’t approve it, You Can’t Use It!! And they have control over names to be given to newborns, too. So just enjoy your freedom to express yourselves everyone, and quit niggling! Personally I love everyone, I don’t care about sexual orientation or any other diversity. At least the French got that right: Vive la difference!
SoBasicallyWhat I’m reading here isThe gay community more or less said call us gay… now a lot of us are offended by the mere word gay
It is and or should be the business owners perogative whether they want to make a “Bible Cake” or “Political Campaign Cake” “Zombie or Fantasy Cake” a “Penis or a even a Homo-Sexual Cake”! No one should be forced to create (with their gift to the world) anything that is offensive to them.However…If I were lead baker to the King; and perhaps if I wanted to keep my head, I would bake absolutely anything he preferred…But We live in The United States America!…right people?!
Not offended by the word GAY just the misuse of a word!
Matt L is exactly correct. There is no need for long, roundabout etymology for the word “gay”. Prior to its takeover by activist word–pirates, indeed the word meant ‘happy, cheery’ z.B. ‘the gay colours of fall’; ‘the meadow, dotted gaily w/ wildflowers, usw.’ Gay=homosexual did not enter my ken until after 1980 or so.
Exactly. I also never heard it used to mean “homosexual” until about 1980. It always meant “happy” or “fun-loving.” In fact, it was a sort of old-fashioned word–none of my peers (and I grew up in a major metropolitan area on the East Coast) used it at all, and nor did my parents. I only heard it in the Flintstones song, the term “Gay Nineties,” poems (to rhyme with something else), and old songs from decades past. Maybe “gay” meant homosexual within the gay community or Hollywood in the period before 1980, but not in the mainstream culture.
Exactly Chris – When I was growing up, and until the 1980’s era, I was always taught by my parents, and was as usually known in the rest of the normal society that Gay meant Happy, Joyful, and Care-free (people who didn’t have a care in the world, and enjoyed life in general). Just as until the 1980’s, in normal society the term “Fairy”, or “Fairies”, meant and referred to a small mythical creature (usually a female with wings carrying a magic wand always doing good for others) in books and stories called “Fairy Tales”, and were written for children. Then all of a sudden, and unfortunately The Homosexuals (mainly in the San Francisco, area) decided to adopt those terms, (among others) and turn them into Dirty, Derogatory words for their own sick, mentally deranged benefit. Did they (the Homosexuals) even think of all the Children that had already grew up, was growing up at that time, or would grow up in the future with the words Fairy, or Fairies, meaning a nice wonderful mythical creature with wings and a magic wand in children’s Fairy Tales or even the word Gay, no longer meaning a person who is happy, joyful or carefree, now becoming and being used as dirty words of derogatory meaning pertaining to sick, mentally deranged, sexual perversion. I can guarantee you that, NO, THEY DIDN”T.. All they could think of, was taking and using those normal ordinary words, for their own special sick perversion, by trying to make themselves all look and sound cool, and the HELL with all the Innocent Children.
The ‘Innocent Children’ should by all rights be more disgusted and horrified with all the stupid and unjustifiable hate in the world than what people choose to do in their private lives. I know I certainly was.
The fact you highlighted the phrase ‘Innocent Children’ – then attempted to undermine the very idea that such creatures might still exist – tells us all we need to know about your perspective on life.
Wow. Why so angry with people who aren’t hurting you?
Growing up, never heard the name gay for homosexuals, Gay was a name for girls, it meant happy etc. People who liked the same sex, were called queers, powder puff, pansies so I suppose the homosexuals wanted a nicer name for themselves a sort of defiant act!. but I see nothing wrong with homosexual , lesbian, heterosexual, bi-sexual. That is what people are! Gay is really a euphemism for who they are, and to have to steal word to describe themselves is pathetic. Stand up, say who you are! Not that any one cares what a person does in their private moments, as long as both adults are consenting.
You had a very sheltered childhood then. In England gay was commonly understood to mean homosexual in the 1970s,probably to a lesser extent in the 1960s as well.
Gay meaning homosexual has existed for a long timethough: the 1943 Cole Porter song FARMING (Let’s Face It) uses gay tomean both glamorous/fashionable and homosexual. I suppose at that time thehomosexual meaning of gay was intentionally slightly cryptic and wouldnot have been widely recognised by the general public.
Some people may think the modern use of the word gay emerged in the 1980s because that’s when they heard it. I was definitely aware of it prior to 1980. I’m not old enough to have been a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, but I do have friends who were. THE GLF started in the late 1960s, therefore, Gay was already the prefered term for all at that time. AND, BTW, at that time it referred to gay men, lesbians, trans people and intersex in UK anyway
Gay meaning homosexual has existed for a long time: the 1943 Cole Porter song FARMING (Let’s Face It) uses gay to mean both glamorous/fashionable and homosexual. I suppose at that time the homosexual meaning of gay was intentionally cryptic and would not have been widely recognised by the general public.
Great article, but the modern word gay does not simply describe a sexual orientation. It also denotes romantic orientation. While the word homosexual reduces our love for other men to bedroom activities (or public bathroom activities, as one undoubtedly conservative individual insinuated in a comment above), the word gay describes with whom we fall in love, with whom we want to build a live and maybe start a family one day.
It is for this reason that many conservatives flat out refuse to use the term gay, make a point of calling us homosexuals and often falsely equate gay with anal sex. Unlike love and romance, anal sex has a certain squick factor. Any kind of sex practice is easily made out to be dirty and disgusting, and that’s exactly how people like Matt L want to see us. I’ve come to loathe the word homosexual for this reason and much prefer the term gay. I just wish there were equally romantic orientation-inclusive terms for bisexual and pansexual individuals, who shouldn’t be reduced to their sexual orientation either.
There is absolutely nothing “gay” about these sexual deviants. These are a sick, depraved people.
Exactly Johnson. They should all be sent to the middle east for corrective punishment, because Muslims, have their own very effective brand of cure for this mental disease.
During a.m. hours (June 12, 2016) at least 50 were killed in a club which caters to homosexuals. I disagree with that sort of ‘lifestyle’, but I could never kill. I was born when ‘gay’ meant ‘happy’, i.e. listen to lyrics of ‘Blue Skirt Waltz’.
Whatever happened to heeding the Bible’s 10 Commandments, i.e. THOU SHALT NOT KILL? Surely, clear-thinking Muslims have their commandments too ?
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I love how many people are commenting here that “because I didn’t hear it until … , that usage couldn’t have existed earlier”. I didn’t learn to use the metric system until I was a teenager. Doesn’t mean the French weren’t using it a couple of hundred years earlier, does it?
Ignorance is one thing. Stupidity is another entirely.
Gay was certainly commonly understood to mean homosexual in the 1970s , probably in the 1960s as well. That meaning had existed for a long time though, the Cole Porter song FARMING (Let’s Face It, 1943) uses gay to mean both glamorous and homosexual. I suppose at that time the homosexual meaning of gay was intentionally slightly cryptic and would not have been widely recognised.
I have been living in South America for 5 years now (Colombia)
Since the language that I am learning that is spoken here isthe Romantic Language Spanish, let me share some linguisticand cultural similarities of the usage of the term “gay”.
In the the Romantic Languages there is often a sweet wayto refer to people using terms of endearment. The diminutivesuffixes of Ito(masculine) or ita(feminine) is an example.A boy named Raphael is often referred to as Raphaelito.A girl named Consuelo would be Consuelita.Similarly the term for fat or chubby “Gordo” would be gordito masc.gordita feminine.
The sweet term most used for Male homosexuals is“mariposa” which means butterfly. The rough term is “mericon”which translates to “faggot.”
I think the preferred term by homosexuals of“gay” is an effort by their community to sweetenor romanticize that experience as more joyful andhuman and less demeaning.
That said, I think that being gay was not a choice, butthe way God made them. Scientifically it has to dowith the composition of their brains or DNA.
I can accept the sweetness and creativity of their lifestyle.I do struggle to accept the promiscuity of having multiplepartners, most of them strangers to cavalierly performrandom sexual activity, at least among men.
This is something that is a choice, and a RADICAL changein this cultural dynamic will go a long way toward acceptanceof them by Straighta.
I always thought GAY was an acronym — Got Aids Yet . . .
I hear ‘gaiety’ used in relation to homosexuality (most often in the pejorative sense) much more often than in the actual carefreeness interesting article. Not really a surprise since for most of its life, the concept of homosexuality was tied in entirely with hedonism, basically doing ANYTHING outside the norm was all rolled into one category. And until promiscuity got associated with an incurable disease instead of embarrassing but curable ones, that was an association they seemed to have no problem with.
I see absolutely no logic in the different meanings of that word. The words “happy” and “homosexual” have nothing to do with each other directly according to the etymology of the word “gay.”
This article seems to be missing a lot about the term gay as referring to someone who is simply happy about everything. It sure does make me wonder about those Christmas songs talking about gay apparel and just what the Flintstones were doing when they had their gay old time. Let’s be honest; homosexuals hijacked a perfectly good term we all used to be able to use, and yes; I resent no longer being able to say I’m gay without someone thinking I’m homosexual. Homosexuals could at least stop being so perturbed all of the time. If you are going to claim to be gay, at least be happy.
remember Sodom and Gommarh destroyed to black rubble in one night and judgment fell
Gay meaning ‘homosexual’ became established in the 1960s as the term preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves. It is now the standard accepted term throughout the English-speaking world. As a result, the centuries-old other senses of gay meaning either ‘carefree’ or ‘bright and showy’ have more or less dropped out of natural use. The word gay cannot be readily used today in these older senses without arousing a sense of double entendre, despite concerted attempts by some to keep them alive. Gay in its modern sense typically refers to men (lesbian being the standard term for homosexual women) but in some contexts it can be used of both men and women
Middle English (in gay (sense 2 of the adjective)): from Old French gai, of unknown origin.
Gay meaning ‘homosexual,’ dating back to the 1930s (if not earlier), became established in the 1960s as the term preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves. It is now the standard accepted term throughout the English-speaking world. As a result, the centuries-old other senses of gay meaning either ‘carefree’ or ‘bright and showy,’ once common in speech and literature, are much less frequent. The word gay cannot be readily used today in these older senses without sounding old-fashioned or arousing a sense of double entendre, despite concerted attempts by some to keep them alive. Gay in its modern sense typically refers to men (lesbian being the standard term for homosexual women), but in some contexts it can be used of both men and women
Middle English (in gay (sense 2 of the adjective)): from Old French gai, of unknown origin.
Earlier uses of the word gay
The word gay has a variety of uses that date back as far as the 13th century. These range from “a person being described as joyous” to also saying that something is “brightly colored.”
The video above also explores other, lesser-known meanings. “I did a quick etymology rundown on the word gay and found some now rare and out-of-date uses that are also pretty cool,” Danielle Bainbridge, the video’s host and creator, explains. “One meaning was to be fine or showily dressed. Another was ‘noble, fine and excellent.’ Another still was light-hearted.”
When did the word gay become associated with sexuality?
Before the word gay was linked to same-sex attraction, it was actually just linked to sexuality in general, heterosexual or homosexual. Starting around the 16th century, some early meanings of gay included being “hedonistic” or “frivolous,” and in the 18th century, “gay houses” was another term for brothels (and not necessarily brothels where same-sex relations were happening).
When did the word gay start referring to same-sex attraction?
Before the word gay, the more common term to describe people who enjoy same-sex relationships and experience same-sex attraction was homosexual. This began in the 19th century. But, as the video describes, the term was linked to the common belief at the time that same-sex attraction was a psychological disorder that could be treated and cured. This also led to many anti-gay (sodomy) laws that sought to criminalize same-sex relationships.
“The practice of considering queer desire and illness has been denounced by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association since 1973 and 1975 respectively,” Bainbridge explains. “However, the shift to using gay in the common language took a bit longer. The New York Times didn’t adopt the use of gay until 1987, although it still doesn’t use it in all contexts. But now GLAAD lists homosexual as an offensive term in their media reference guide supplementing gay as the appropriate stand-in.”
Around the mid-20th century, use of the word gay to describe homosexuality primarily for men became more common practice.
The word began to be used as a way for queer people to communicate with each other without having to use the word homosexual or any other word that listeners or straight people may be able to interpret.
From the video: “In an article for The New York Times called ‘The Decline and Fall of the H Word’ Professor George Chauncey notes that uses of gay in queer communities often operated as a code so that people could express same-sex desire through language without being picked up on by others who would respond negatively to them.”
Later, in the 1960s, the word gay became the word used by the gay liberation arguing for the decriminalization of same-sex relationships and equality in all aspects of public life. This helped to bring the use of the word as a symbol of pride into wider use, as it was repurposed and taken up in a positive context of self-identification and group communication.
Slang among queer people is still very much a thing today, with words like “otter” and “bear” being a few examples of words with double meanings that many non-queer people aren’t aware of. This is how the word gay became what it is today.