Synonyms for gay
Antonyms for gay
The meaning “homosexual” for the word gay has become so prevalent that people hesitate to use the term in its original senses of “merry, lively” and “bright or showy.” But the word's association with sexuality is not new. The word gay has had various senses dealing with sexual conduct since the 17th century. A gay woman was a prostitute, a gay man a womanizer, a gay house a brothel. This sexual world included homosexuals too, and gay as an adjective meaning “homosexual” goes back at least to the late 1930s. After World War II, as social attitudes toward sexuality began to change, gay was applied openly by homosexuals to themselves, first as an adjective and later as a noun. It is no longer considered slang. Today, the noun often designates only a male homosexual and is usually used as a collective plural: gays and lesbians . Usage as a singular noun is uncommon and is sometimes perceived as insulting: He came out as a gay. In contrast, gay in the sense “awkward, stupid, or bad” is often used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting to gay people. Though some have argued that this sense is independent of the “homosexual” sense, and therefore not homophobic, the argument is weakened by the fact that “homosexual” has long been the dominant meaning of gay, and thus permeates its other usages. See also homosexual.