\ ˈgā \

Definition of gay 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : happily excited : merry in a gay mood

b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits a bird's gay spring song

2a : bright, lively gay sunny meadows

b : brilliant in color

3 : given to social pleasures also : licentious

4a : of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex : homosexual gay men

b : of, relating to, or used by homosexuals the gay rights movement a gay bar



Definition of gay (Entry 2 of 3)

: homosexual especially : a homosexual male


biographical name
\ ˈgā \

Definition of Gay (Entry 3 of 3)

John 1685–1732 English poet and dramatist

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Other words from gay


gay adverb
gayness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for gay

Synonyms: Adjective

blithe, blithesome, bright, buoyant, cheerful, cheery, chipper, gladsome, lightsome, sunny, upbeat, winsome

Antonyms: Adjective

dour, gloomy, glum, morose, saturnine, sulky, sullen

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Choose the Right Synonym for gay


lively, animated, vivacious, sprightly, gay mean keenly alive and spirited. lively suggests briskness, alertness, or energy. a lively debate on the issues animated applies to what is spirited and active. an animated discussion of current events vivacious suggests an activeness of gesture and wit, often playful or alluring. a vivacious party host sprightly suggests lightness and spirited vigor of manner or wit. a tuneful, sprightly musical gay stresses complete freedom from care and overflowing spirits. the gay spirit of Paris in the 1920s

Examples of gay in a Sentence


The band was playing a gay tune. the gayest of the spring flowers


a bar that is frequented by gays
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Although there had been earlier efforts to promote gay rights in the United States, they had been based primarily on values of privacy and respectability. Sascha Cohen, Smithsonian, "How Gay Activists Challenged the Politics of Civility," 10 July 2018 The court also strongly reaffirmed gay rights and left open the possibility that the cases raising similar issues could be decided different. Jewish Journal, "Jewish groups react to Supreme Court religious-liberty case," 5 June 2018 But in other countries around the world, gay and lesbian couples are often penalized. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Being Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Is a Crime in These Places," 26 June 2018 The second hour takes up the contemporary story, with grandson Adam, also gay and conflicted and unable to form a relationship more satisfying than anonymous meetings engineered through hook-up apps. Robert Lloyd,, "PBS’ ‘Man in an Orange Shirt’ movingly explores challenges, changes of gay life across the decades," 16 June 2018 Officer Clemmons on the show—in which Rogers learns that Clemmons is gay and sternly advises him never to be seen at a gay club again, for fear of the show losing sponsors. K. Austin Collins, HWD, "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?," 8 June 2018 Breed and Wiener are standing in front of the Castro Theatre, there’s a big rainbow flag inside, there’s a list of endorsers who are gay or lesbian, and there’s even a mention that Breed’s contingent in the 2016 Pride Parade won best float. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, "With SF’s slick campaign mailers, ridiculousness wins by a landslide," 31 May 2018 Producers like Ryan Murphy on FX (and now Netflix as well) and Lee Daniels on FOX are openly gay and consistently put LGBTQ+ characters at the forefront of their stories., "This New Study Proves That Hollywood Does Not Get Intersectionality," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As a presidential candidate, Trump last year vowed to fight for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. Phil Stewart And Idrees Ali, Alaska Dispatch News, "No changes yet to military’s transgender policy, says top U.S. general," 27 July 2017 Gays and lesbians could now openly serve their country. Susan Davis, Cosmopolitan, "Why I'm Proud to Display the Pride Flag," 24 July 2017 It was set to hold one here in 2015, but moved it to Columbus, Ohio, as a protest against the Indiana legislature's passage of its religious-freedom law, which the church and others believed allowed discrimination against gays and lesbians. Dwight Adams, Indianapolis Star, "An Indy-based church of diversity elects first black woman to lead a major denomination," 13 July 2017 But at least one leading Mormon scholar said that the Boy Scouts and the church have been diverging on values in recent years and that the policy on gays was probably a contributing factor in the split. Brady Mccombs, The Denver Post, "Mormon church severs some of its ties to the Boy Scouts," 11 May 2017 “Some people in the alt-right are kind of like, ‘Women go back to the kitchen, gays go back in the closet’—like everything was great in the ’50s. I don’t believe that at all.” Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, "His Kampf," 14 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gay


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1953, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gay


Middle English, from Anglo-French gai, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German gāhi quick, sudden


derivative of gay entry 1

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Statistics for gay

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gay

The first known use of gay was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for gay



English Language Learners Definition of gay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: sexually attracted to someone who is the same sex

: of, relating to, or used by homosexuals

: happy and excited : cheerful and lively



English Language Learners Definition of gay (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person and especially a man who is homosexual


\ ˈgā \
gayer; gayest

Kids Definition of gay

1 : merry sense 1, happy Setsu grew … into a gay, willful, pretty girl. —Pearl S. Buck, The Big Wave

2 : cheerful and lively They played a gay tune.

3 : brightly colored a gay dress

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Comments on gay

What made you want to look up gay? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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