Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 09:50:21 EST
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: GAY (Changes to the English Language)
If anyone wants documentation on the earlier (Victorian and pre-) use of GAY
for non-homosexual varieties of marked sexuality, a good place to start is
Farmer & Henley (SLANG AND ITS ANALOGUES, 1890-1904, reprinted by Arno Press,
GAY, adj. (colloquial) 1. Dissipated; specifically, given to venery: As in the
French, avoir la cuisse gaie = to be addicted to the use of men. Hence GAY
WOMAN or GIRL or BIT = a strumpet; GAY HOUSE = a brothel; TO BE GAY = to be
incontinent [!]; GAY IN THE LEGS, IN THE GROIN, IN THE ARSE = SHORT-HEELED
(q.v.); GAYING INSTRUMENT = the penis; GAY MAN = a wencher [clearly, the pro-
posed gloss 'to be addicted to the use of men' is too restrictive]; GAYING IT
Glosses range from Chaucer, 1383
What eyeleth you? Some GAY girl, God it wot, Hath brought you
thus upon the very trot.
through someone named Leech, 1854
How long have you been GAY?
to this one, from the Sunday Times, sounding like Pat Buchanan (mutatis mutan-
As soon as ever a woman has ostensibly lost her reputation, we, with a
grim inappositeness, call her GAY.
Other meanings include
2. (common) In drink. For synonyms, see SCREWED.
ALL GAY, ALL SO GAY. adv. phr. (common) All right, first rate.
TO FEEL GAY. verb phr. (colloquial) Inclined for sport, veneral or other; TO
FEEL NAUGHTY (q.v.).
GAY TYKE BOY, subs. phr. (old) A dog fancier.