Definition of gay in US English:

gay

adjective

  • 1(of a person) homosexual (used especially of a man)

    ‘the city's gay and lesbian people’
    ‘a gay couple’
    ‘my friend is gay’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She admits that she only told her daughters she was gay three years ago.’
    • ‘Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective.’
    • ‘You might act straight but I bet your mother always knew you were gay.’
    • ‘I'm gay and happy to be so.’
    • ‘Seven other states allow gay couples to join in civil unions that have full marriage benefits.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He would end the ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals serving in the armed forces.’
    • ‘Society is really changing - people are moving along and accepting gay athletes.’
    • ‘The pop star hit the headlines a decade ago when he came out as a gay man.’
    • ‘Nothing anyone has ever said or done has ever for a moment made me anything less than glad to be gay.’
    • ‘It's not exactly a secret that she is gay.’
    • ‘I'm not gay, but I think gay people should be left alone to marry whoever they like.’
    lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay
    homosexual, lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Relating to or used by homosexuals.
      ‘a gay bar’
      ‘the gay vote can decide an election’
      • ‘I've always written about the gay experience as part of the continuum of the world.’
      • ‘Their partnership was one of the first openly gay relationships portrayed in popular media.’
      • ‘After finding a gay community on-line, I became much happier.’
      • ‘He goes on to say that the support of the gay community means the world to him.’
      • ‘Prepare to encounter celebrities, the party set and a lively gay scene as well as terrific beaches and the bluest sea.’
      • ‘When I lived in Boston there were few gay bars, as everyone there just mixed in straight clubs.’
      • ‘You may find yourself feeling at ease, happy and relaxed by the cheerful non-threatening atmosphere of a gay venue.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was spotted in a gay bar in Washington, DC.’
      • ‘I have always been a strong proponent of gay parenting and adoption.’
      • ‘Check out the local phone book for gay bars and gay bookstores.’
  • 2dated Lighthearted and carefree.

    ‘Nan had a gay disposition and a very pretty face’
    • ‘Some people cannot take criticism, and expect everything to always be happy and gay.’
    • ‘He keeps the energy level high and the actors gay and carefree in a successful attempt to create a pleasurable musical.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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. 2.1 Brightly colored; showy; brilliant.
      ‘a gay profusion of purple and pink sweet peas’
      • ‘He was decked out in a bright orange suit with a gay, orange floral tie.’
      • ‘The commercial area was especially gay, decorated with countless coloured lights.’
      • ‘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?’
      bright, brightly coloured, vivid, brilliant, rich, vibrant
      View synonyms
  • 3offensive, informal Foolish, stupid, or unimpressive.

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

noun

  • A homosexual, especially a man.

    • ‘Black gays and lesbians often experience discrimination because of their race and their sexual orientation.’
    • ‘John is a repressed gay living with his old mum.’
    • ‘There hasn't been a time in modern history when gays haven't been persecuted.’
    • ‘Why not once and for all protect gays from discrimination in the workplace?’
    • ‘For years closeted gays have lived straight lives.’
    • ‘Minnesota has a statewide law protecting gays from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.’
    • ‘The issue of gays serving in the military is one that is both controversial and divisive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She began by telling her parents that she was planning a documentary film on gays and lesbians in India.’
    • ‘Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church.’
    homosexual, lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay
    homosexual, lesbian, gay person, lesbigay
    View synonyms

Usage

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

gay

/ɡā//ɡeɪ/