History of the word gay

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Terms used to describe homosexuality have gone through many changes since the emergence of the first terms in the midth century. In English, some terms in widespread use have been sodomiteSapphicUranianhomophilelesbiangayand same-sex attracted. Some of these words are specific to women, some to men, and some can be used of either.

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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gay. Send us feedback. See more words from the same century.

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To most ears, it probably sounds inoffensive. A little outdated and clinical, perhaps, but innocuous enough: homosexual. But that five-syllable word has never been more loaded, more deliberately used and, to the ears of many gays and lesbians, more pejorative.

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Sometimes he repaired to ' gay ' houses, hoping to learn something about Odette, although he dared not mention her name. When the knight wishes to send a message, he speaks in the ear of his ' gay goshawk that can baith speak and flee. But he was anything but ' gay '—delicate in health, plain to look at, and poor besides.

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However, around the early parts of the 17th century, the word began to be associated with immorality. 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 enoughoften prostitutes. Those were just accepted definitions, along with the other meanings of the word.

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Meaning "stately and beautiful; splendid and showily dressed" is from early 14c. Of things, "sumptuous, showy, rich, ornate," midc. In the English of Yorkshire and Scotland formerly it could mean "moderately, rather, considerable" ; compare sense development in pretty adj.

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This story from provides some insight. From hiring men to entrap civilians to imprisoning gay sailors for years, the Navy earned its reputation for homophobia. But the real Alan Turing was a hero.

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See OED entry for Gay. The word gay has an extraordinary history. The definitions shown in this OED entry refer to an amazing array of subjects: joy, poetry, prancing horses, dogs tails, prostitution and bright colours to name a few.

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Gay is a term that primarily refers to a homosexual person or the trait of being homosexual. The term was originally used to mean "carefree", "cheerful", or "bright and showy". The term's use as a reference to homosexuality may date as early as the late 19th century, but its use gradually increased in the midth century.

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    3 thoughts on “History of the word gay

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