Origin of "flamer"?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Dec 14 15:37:44 UTC 2006

My memories are less colorful and more recent than Jerry's, but "flamer" in precisely that sense was widely current by the early '70s: a  "flamer" was someone grossly, embarrassingly inept or stupid.

  HDAS offers a 1931 English ex., but nothing again till the 1960s.

  If "flamer" now means "gay person," that's a newer development. Homosexual "flamers"  had to be flamboyantly and unmistakably gay (as in "flaming faggot," a well-known phrase at the time).  The two senses of "flamer" were sometimes hard to distinguish.


"Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at UMR.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Cohen, Gerald Leonard"
Subject: Re: Origin of "flamer"?

FWIW: The word "flamer" remains in one of my amusing memories of =
undergraduate days. IIRC, it was short for "flaming asshole." Anyway, =
my family came to attend my graduation (1962), and some time before the =
ceremony I was walking along with my younger sister and perhaps one or =
two friends. I spotted another friend heading our way and told my =
sister how to greet him. When we all reached the same point in the =
sidewalk, I said, "Dave, this is my sister." He gave a friendly =
"hello," and at that point my sister (who knew only that the word =
sounded funny but had no idea of its etymology) looked up and said, "Hi, =
flamer." =20
It was of course totally obvious that she had done so under my =
instruction. Dave wagged his finger at me, but there were no hard =
Gerald Cohen


From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Pam Norton
Sent: Thu 12/14/2006 12:54 AM
Subject: Origin of "flamer"?

My 19 year old daughter has just informed me that there is a term =
"flamer," not referring to flaming on the internet, but referring to gay =
people. I have never heard of this, although I have heard of "flaming" =
as an adjective equivalent of "flamboyant". She swears this is "old" =
usage, e.g. from the '80's. I can see how this meaning would develop but =
does anyone know the origin (and is it from the 80's?). I can't believe =
I've never heard of this, so my feeling is that it's got to be something =
from her generation. True?


Pam Norton

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org =

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Need a quick answer? Get one in minutes from people who know. Ask your question on Yahoo! Answers.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list