Definition of gay in English:



  • 1(of a person, especially a man) homosexual.

    ‘that friend of yours, is he gay?’
    • ‘I'm not gay, but I think gay people should be left alone to marry whoever they like.’
    • ‘As a gay man I find his comments quite funny - good for him to be brave enough to express his honest opinion.’
    • ‘When it came down to it, I didn't have a choice about being gay: I was gay and always had been.’
    • ‘He would end the ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals serving in the armed forces.’
    • ‘She admits that she only told her daughters she was gay three years ago.’
    • ‘Nothing anyone has ever said or done has ever for a moment made me anything less than glad to be gay.’
    • ‘Society is really changing - people are moving along and accepting gay athletes.’
    • ‘I'm gay and happy to be so.’
    • ‘Legal skirmishes can be expected across the country as gay couples seek recognition of their new marriage licenses.’
    • ‘In the first of this two-part series, he reflects on how much has changed for gay people during his lifetime.’
    • ‘Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective.’
    • ‘The pop star hit the headlines a decade ago when he came out as a gay man.’
    • ‘You might act straight but I bet your mother always knew you were gay.’
    • ‘It's not exactly a secret that she is gay.’
    • ‘Seven other states allow gay couples to join in civil unions that have full marriage benefits.’
    lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay
    glbt, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered
    homophile, uranian
    pink, lavender, camp, lezzy, les, lesbo, butch, dykey
    queer, limp-wristed, that way, swinging the other way, homo
    bent, poofy
    homosexual, lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay
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    1. 1.1Relating to or used by homosexuals.
      ‘feminist, black, and gay perspectives’
      • ‘Their partnership was one of the first openly gay relationships portrayed in popular media.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The city has a vibrant gay scene, and many of the pubs and clubs have a mixed clientele.’
      • ‘Check out the local phone book for gay bars and gay bookstores.’
      • ‘I've always written about the gay experience as part of the continuum of the world.’
      • ‘Prepare to encounter celebrities, the party set and a lively gay scene as well as terrific beaches and the bluest sea.’
      • ‘You may find yourself feeling at ease, happy and relaxed by the cheerful non-threatening atmosphere of a gay venue.’
      • ‘He was spotted in a gay bar in Washington, DC.’
      • ‘When I lived in Boston there were few gay bars, as everyone there just mixed in straight clubs.’
      • ‘I have always been a strong proponent of gay parenting and adoption.’
      • ‘He goes on to say that the support of the gay community means the world to him.’
      • ‘After finding a gay community on-line, I became much happier.’
  • 2Lighthearted and carefree.

    ‘Nan had a gay disposition and a very pretty face’
    • ‘And she laughed, laughed at how happy, gay, and carefree her tone sounded.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He keeps the energy level high and the actors gay and carefree in a successful attempt to create a pleasurable musical.’
    • ‘Some people cannot take criticism, and expect everything to always be happy and gay.’
    • ‘The musicians arrived and began to strike up the lively harps, lutes, joyful drums and gay flutes.’
    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
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    1. 2.1Brightly colored; showy; brilliant.
      ‘a gay profusion of purple and pink sweet peas’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The commercial area was especially gay, decorated with countless coloured lights.’
      • ‘So, uh, is the uniform jet black and sombre or colourful and gay?’
      • ‘He was decked out in a bright orange suit with a gay, orange floral tie.’
      bright, brightly coloured, vivid, brilliant, rich, vibrant
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  • 3offensive, informal Foolish, stupid, or unimpressive.

    ‘making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule’


  • A homosexual, especially a man.

    • ‘John is a repressed gay living with his old mum.’
    • ‘Discrimination against lesbians and gays in other areas of life is also commonplace.’
    • ‘The commission suspects hate crimes against gays, lesbians, and transgender people are under-reported.’
    • ‘Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church.’
    • ‘My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.’
    • ‘There hasn't been a time in modern history when gays haven't been persecuted.’
    • ‘The issue of gays serving in the military is one that is both controversial and divisive.’
    • ‘For years closeted gays have lived straight lives.’
    • ‘Why not once and for all protect gays from discrimination in the workplace?’
    • ‘She began by telling her parents that she was planning a documentary film on gays and lesbians in India.’
    • ‘Minnesota has a statewide law protecting gays from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.’
    • ‘Black gays and lesbians often experience discrimination because of their race and their sexual orientation.’
    homosexual, lesbian, gay person, lesbigay
    invert, homophile, uranian
    queen, friend of dorothy, dyke, les, lesbo, lezzie, butch, femme
    queer, homo, pansy, nancy, bumboy, nelly
    poof, poofter, ponce, jessie, woofter, shirtlifter, bender
    cupcake, swish, twinkie
    batty boy, batty man
    homosexual, lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay
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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 ( gay): from Old French gai, of unknown origin.