Query: Gay Self-Appellations in 20s, 30s? (Modified by Grant Barrett)

Joanne M. Despres jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Wed Feb 25 14:38:55 UTC 2004

If you've read the underground literature, then you're obviously in a
much better position to judge than I am, Ron.  And I do understand
your objection to interpreting the title of that 1895 film, or of Cary
Grant's line for that matter, as a full-blown use of the current
meaning of "gay."  I just wonder, particularly if the term "gay"
appears so often in the underground literature, whether its
contemporary use might have evolved from its use in contexts like
the 1895 film, perhaps from the association of  "gay" (meaning
something like "outrageously giddy") behavior with homosexuals.
But I suppose that's an argument from theoretical plausibility more
than from linguistic fact.


Joanne M. Despres, Senior Editor
Merriam-Webster, Inc.
jdespres at merriam-webster.com

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