Date: Tue, 2 Aug 1994 09:56:13 -0400
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: Queries: GAY
2. In his short story "I'm a Fool," Sherwood Anderson uses the term GAY to
mean 'rambunctious', 'belligerent', or just plain 'crazy'. My colleague
tells me that he thinks that Stephen Crane used it, but he can't find it
now; apparently it is not in MAGGIE. I cannot find it in any slang
dictionary that I have at my immediate disposal. Does anyone know this
usage--from literature, linguistics, lexicographical research, or life?
In the _Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang,_ we have
definition 3 of GAY as "unruly; impertinent; forward; reckless." The
first citation we have is indeed from Stephen Crane, _NYC Sketches_
(1893): "When a feller asts a civil question yehs needn't git gay."
The next example is from F.P. Dunne, 1895: "War...'tis like gettin'
gay in front iv a polis station." Then George Ade, from _Artie_ in
1896: "Some day you'll get too gay an' a guy'll give you a funny poke."
Examples follow, heavily in the 1890s, with reasonable frequency to
1970 (Studs Terkel). We do not have the Anderson cite, but it isn't
really necessary to fill out the record.
Hope this helps.
Jesse T Sheidlower
Random House Reference
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com