funny meaning gay

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 22 03:07:59 UTC 2008

To answer a question with a question, how in the world did your friend
ever come across this use? When I was a kid in Saint Louis in the
'40's and '50's , the use of "funny" WRT to homosexuality was rare
even in street language. When the song, "Funny That Way," was heard on
the radio, it was good for a giggle, but that was about the extent of


On Mon, Jul 21, 2008 at 1:53 PM, John M. Spartz <jspartz at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "John M. Spartz" <jspartz at PURDUE.EDU>
> Subject:      funny meaning gay
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A medievalist friend of mine asked me for some help in finding any information
> about the historical use of the word 'funny' meaning 'gay' (in the homosexual
> sense). Specifically, he is interested in antedating information and any early
> literary uses/references.
> I know that Wilson Gray and Benjamin Barrett had a brief back-and-forth about
> this sense of 'funny' back in September, 2004, but nothing substantive.  I,
> also, could find nothing on it in HDAS, OED, or any other such source.
> Any help would be greatly appreciated.
> --John M. Spartz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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