[ gey ]
/ geɪ /

adjective, gay·er, gay·est.


Sometimes Offensive. a homosexual person, especially a male.


in a gay manner.

Origin of gay

1275–1325; Middle English gai < Old French < Germanic; compare Old High German gāhi ‘fast, sudden’

usage note 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.


gay·ness, nounnon·gay, adjectivequa·si-gay, adjective

Definition for gay (2 of 2)

[ gey ]
/ geɪ /


John,1685–1732, English poet and dramatist.
a female or male given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for gay

British Dictionary definitions for gay (1 of 2)

/ (ɡeɪ) /


  1. homosexual
  2. of or for homosexualsa gay club
  1. carefree and merrya gay temperament
  2. brightly coloured; brillianta gay hat
  3. given to pleasure, esp in social entertainmenta gay life


a homosexual

Derived forms of gay

gayness, noun

Word Origin for gay

C13: from Old French gai, from Old Provençal, of Germanic origin

usage for gay

Gayness is the word used to refer to homosexuality. The noun which refers to being carefree and merry is gaiety

British Dictionary definitions for gay (2 of 2)

/ (ɡeɪ) /


John. 1685–1732, English poet and dramatist; author of The Beggar's Opera (1728)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for gay

[ gā ]


Relating to or having a sexual orientation to persons of the same sex.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Cultural definitions for gay


Descriptive term for homosexuals.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.