Definition of gay in English:

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gay

Pronunciation: /ɡeɪ/

adjective (gayer, gayest)

1(Of a person, especially a man) homosexual.
Example sentences
  • I'm gay and happy to be so.
  • He would end the ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals serving in the armed forces.
  • Legal skirmishes can be expected across the country as gay couples seek recognition of their new marriage licenses.
Synonyms
homosexual, lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered)
rare homophile, Uranian
informal pink, lavender, camp, lezzy, les, lesbo, butch, dykey
informal, derogatory queer, limp-wristed, that way, swinging the other way, homo
British informal, derogatory bent, poofy
North American informal, derogatory fruity
gay, lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered)
rare homophile, Uranian
informal pink, lavender, camp, lezzy, les, lesbo, butch, dykey
informal, derogatory queer, limp-wristed, that way, swinging the other way, homo
British informal, derogatory bent, poofy
North American informal, derogatory fruity
1.1Relating to or used by homosexuals: a gay bar
More example sentences
  • Check out the local phone book for gay bars and gay bookstores.
  • He was spotted in a gay bar in Washington, DC.
  • It is also home to a thriving, resilient and somewhat embattled, lesbian and gay community, with five gay bars, a gay theatre, and a community centre.
2 dated Light-hearted and carefree: Nan had a gay disposition and a very pretty face
More example sentences
  • And she laughed, laughed at how happy, gay, and carefree her tone sounded.
  • Some people cannot take criticism, and expect everything to always be happy and gay.
  • Yes I know this must come as a shock to you since I am normally such a gay and carefree chap, brimming with chuckles and mirth.
Synonyms
cheerful, cheery, merry, jolly, light-hearted, mirthful, jovial, glad, happy, bright, in good spirits, in high spirits, joyful, elated, exuberant, animated, lively, sprightly, vivacious, buoyant, bouncy, bubbly, perky, effervescent, playful, frolicsome
informal chirpy, on top of the world, as happy as a sandboy
North American informal as happy as a clam
3 dated Brightly coloured; showy: a gay profusion of purple and pink sweet peas
More example sentences
  • The picture was all the more poignant for me because of the stark contrast offered by the youngsters' skeletal bodies and the gay colours and rich decoration of their mothers' dresses.
  • It was quite a sight, after the War and four years of dreary austerity in England, to see girls whirling round the dance floor in pretty full-length evening dresses in gay colours.
  • So, uh, is the uniform jet black and sombre or colourful and gay?
Synonyms
bright, brightly coloured, vivid, brilliant, rich, vibrant;
richly coloured, many-coloured, multicoloured;
flamboyant, gaudy
4 informal, offensive Foolish, stupid, or unimpressive: he thinks the obsession with celebrity is totally gay

noun

A homosexual, especially a man.
Example sentences
  • Discrimination against lesbians and gays in other areas of life is also commonplace.
  • She began by telling her parents that she was planning a documentary film on gays and lesbians in India.
  • John is a repressed gay living with his old mum.
Synonyms
homosexual, lesbian, gay person, lesbigay
informal queen, friend of Dorothy, dyke, les, lesbo, lezzie, butch, femme
informal, derogatory queer, homo, pansy, nancy, bumboy, nelly
British informal, derogatory poof, poofter, ponce, jessie, woofter, shirtlifter, bender
North American informal, derogatory cupcake, swish, twinkie
Australian informal wonk
South African informal, derogatory moffie
West Indian informal, derogatory batty boy, batty man

Usage

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.

Origin

Middle English (in sense 2 of the adjective): from Old French gai, of unknown origin.

More
  • In its original sense of ‘light-hearted and carefree, exuberantly cheerful’, gay goes back to the 14th century and derives from Old French gai. By the 17th century the meaning had extended to ‘addicted to social pleasures’, often with an implication of loose morality, as in, for example, the expression gay dog (a man fond of revelry), or these lines from William Cowper's poem ‘To a Young Lady’ (1782): ‘Silent and chaste she steal along / Far from the world's gay busy throng’. In slang use the word could describe a prostitute. The use of gay to mean ‘homosexual’, now the main meaning, is unambiguously found in examples from the 1930s, though there is evidence that it may have been used in this sense earlier.

Words that rhyme with gay

affray, agley, aka, allay, Angers, A-OK, appellation contrôlée, array, assay, astray, au fait, auto-da-fé, away, aweigh, aye, bay, belay, betray, bey, Bombay, Bordet, boulevardier, bouquet, brae, bray, café au lait, Carné, cassoulet, Cathay, chassé, chevet, chez, chiné, clay, convey, Cray, crème brûlée, crudités, cuvée, cy-pres, day, decay, deejay, dégagé, distinguée, downplay, dray, Dufay, Dushanbe, eh, embay, engagé, essay, everyday, faraway, fay, fey, flay, fray, Frey, fromage frais, gainsay, Gaye, Genet, giclee, gilet, glissé, gray, grey, halfway, hay, heigh, hey, hooray, Hubei, Hué, hurray, inveigh, jay, jeunesse dorée, José, Kay, Kaye, Klee, Kray, Lae, lay, lei, Littré, Lough Neagh, lwei, Mae, maguey, Malay, Mallarmé, Mandalay, Marseilles, may, midday, midway, mislay, misplay, Monterrey, Na-Dene, nay, né, née, neigh, Ney, noway, obey, O'Dea, okay, olé, outlay, outplay, outstay, outweigh, oyez, part-way, pay, Pei, per se, pince-nez, play, portray, pray, prey, purvey, qua, Quai d'Orsay, Rae, rangé, ray, re, reflet, relevé, roman-à-clef, Santa Fé, say, sei, Shar Pei, shay, slay, sleigh, sley, spae, spay, Spey, splay, spray, stay, straightaway, straightway, strathspey, stray, Sui, survey, sway, Taipei, Tay, they, today, tokay, Torbay, Tournai, trait, tray, trey, two-way, ukiyo-e, underlay, way, waylay, Wei, weigh, wey, Whangarei, whey, yea

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: gay

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