Gay, Defined

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Liz Schmidt
Kate Brady
English 101
October 9, 2012
Formal definition:
Gay (adj.) merry: happy and carefree; brightly ornamental or colorful; homosexual. (n.) A homosexual. (“gay”) Synonymous definition:
Gay (syn.) merry, lighthearted, joyful, cheerful, sprightly, jolly, happy, joyous, gleeful, jovial, colorful, bright. (“gay”) Negative definition:
Gay (adj.) unhappy, lacking color, heavyhearted
Because of the literal definition of the word, people that are homosexual are often seen as “colorful” and “cheerful”. Etymological Definition:
Gay (n) usually male, homosexual. In middle English, it meant “excellent person” “noble lady” “gallant knight” or “something gay or bright”; “ornament or badge” (“gay”)2

Stipulative definition:
Gay (adj.) being homosexual
Illustrative definition:
Two men walking down the street holding hands.
Thesis statement:
The meaning of the word gay has changed vastly over time, which today, can be offensive.

Liz Schmidt
Kate Brady
English 101
October 9, 2012
The definition of the word “gay” has evolved greatly over time. What you consider “gay” today is definitely not what was considered “gay” 200 years ago, or even 50 years ago. 200 years ago, the word was used as a term of promiscuity. It was also used as a slang term to call someone a “young hobo.” (“gay”) Today, we use the word mostly as “homosexual” or referring to someone who is attracted to the same sex. At the same time, the younger age group of America is using the word “gay” as a way to express dislike toward something. A common way would be saying “that’s gay” when a friend tells them their team lost the game. This misuse of the word can often lead to offending the homosexual community. The meaning of the word ”gay” has changed vastly over time, which today, can be offensive.

How did the meaning of the word “gay” once turn from being “merry and happy” to “homosexual”? It all started around the 1630’s, when people often used it as both “splendid and...
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