"twink" redux

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Jul 13 15:23:58 UTC 2013

The history of "twink" as an epithet for young gay men has come up
here from time to time. This piece from The Awl may be of interest:


Arnold Zwicky's Language Log post
(http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1820) is quoted:

The origins of the word are a little bit nebulous, but it seems to
have first emerged some time in the late 1950s. Its first official
use, in a 1963 American Speech article, defined it as meaning
"pansy-ass, petunia, punk, swish, weenie." ("Note that twink(ie) picks
up aspects of the 'dumb blonde' stereotype," says Language Log.) Urban
Dictionary suggests the word comes from "Teenage, White, Into No
Kink," but that's surely a false acronym. I emailed Charles Kaiser,
author of The Gay Metropolis, and he wrote: "I don't think there's
much doubt about the provenance being the Hostess Twinkie, the
too-sweet treat with the yummy inside—addictive, but ultimately

As I recall, the jury's still out on whether the Hostess Twinkie is the source.


Ben Zimmer

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

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