[Ads-l] Antedating (by the OED) of "Gay" (Homosexual)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 6 16:09:59 EST 2019

More about the Ernest W. Burgess papers at Univ. of Chicago:


On Sun, Jan 6, 2019 at 3:14 PM Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:

> I just noticed that the OED has recently pushed back its longstanding 1941
> first use of the word "gay" meaning homosexual.  There is now (not counting
> the several square-bracketed citations from the 1920s and 1930s) the
> following first-use citation:
> ?1937   Typescript (anon., ‘I was twenty years at the time’) (Univ. of
> Chicago Libr.: Ernest W. Burgess Papers, Box 98, Folder 11) 1   Al had told
> me that Kenneth was not gay but jam [i.e. heterosexual], and so I acted
> very manly.
> Fred Shapiro

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