Gay old time

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Jan 10 22:10:02 UTC 2012

The OED paraphrases Burchfield about the word "gay," saying, " in its earlier meanings of ‘carefree’ or ‘bright and showy’ cannot readily be used today without at least a sense of double entendre".

The expression "gay old time" is probably one of the best way to illustrate that, though the OED does not include it.

Googling yields many hits. Here are three:


"We’ll Have a Gay Old Time With Next Grand Theft Auto," Chris Kohler, May 26, 2009

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony will cast you not as the title character, a “legendary nightclub impresario.” Instead, you’ll play Luis Lopez, his assistant slash hired goon.

To be fair, Rockstar’s announcement on Tuesday stopped short of explicitly specifying whether Tony got his nickname because he is gay as in “jovial,” or gay as in “his name is written in a variety of sparkly rainbow colors.”


"A Gay, Old Time?" Jerry Newcombe, June 21, 2011

Not any good quote, but the anti-gay nature of the article makes this use interesting.

When The Flintstones theme first crowed, "we'll have a gay, old time," it would have been difficult to imagine how the meaning of that phrase has changed to a cultural phenomenon sweeping the nation.


"Week 10 Recap: Steelers Have A Gay Old Time," Chris, November 14, 2011

Given the deeply closeted nature of American football, it is particularly interesting that this phrase was used to titillate or provoke football fans into reading the article. The expression is not used in the article; "Gay" refers to player Gay. It will be only a few decades before this title becomes a head-scratcher.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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