\ ˈgā How to pronounce gay (audio) \

Definition of gay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to people of one's same sex gay men a gay woman in her 40s often used to refer to men only gay and lesbian members of the community
b : of, relating to, or intended for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. the gay rights movement a gay bar
2a : happily excited : merry in a gay mood
b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits a bird's gay spring song
3a : bright, lively gay sunny meadows
b : brilliant in color
4 : given to social pleasures also : licentious


plural gays

Definition of gay (Entry 2 of 2)

sometimes disparaging + offensive, see usage paragraph below : a gay person especially : a gay man

Other Words from gay


gay adverb
gayness noun

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

Usage of Gay


Use of the noun gay to refer to a particular person the author is a gay or particular people they are both gays is commonly considered offensive. Instead, phrases that employ the adjective are preferred, as in a gay author , they are both gay , etc. The noun does, however, function as a neutral or positive self-descriptor, and in its plural form is common especially in phrases with other plural nouns that relate to sexual orientation and gender identity, as in the rights of gays and lesbians . It is also sometimes used neutrally to refer in a general way to gay people, as in gays serving in the military .

Examples of gay in a Sentence

Adjective The band was playing a gay tune. the gayest of the spring flowers Noun a bar that is frequented by gays
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The previous Bridgerton showrunner, Chris Van Dusen, previously said the flirtation between Benedict and Sir Henry Granville in season one was not meant to imply Benedict was gay, or bisexual. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 17 May 2022 And her 15-year-old protagonist, Charlie, was openly gay, which meant the plot didn’t begin with the character agonizing over his sexuality. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 11 May 2022 The state passed a bill, seen by many as anti-gay, to expand individuals’ and business’ rights to deny services to those whose way of life conflicts with their religious beliefs. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 On Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook, who came out as gay in 2014, took to Twitter to voice his support for the LGBTQ community and denounce the recent proposals. Andrew Marquardt, Fortune, 11 Mar. 2022 Lissette has a gay best friend Peter, played by Christopher Wayland, and much of the play probes their friendship, as continually stressed by Lissette’s diagnosis. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 11 May 2022 Black had come out as gay by then and was trying to make it as a young screenwriter. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 Does that make this the first time that a celebrity has ever come out as not gay? Brendan Morrow, The Week, 26 Apr. 2022 Nick doesn’t understand his initial attraction to Charlie, who came out as gay the previous year at school. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of gay


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


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

Learn More About gay

Time Traveler for gay

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

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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for gay


\ ˈgā How to pronounce gay (audio) \
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


\ ˈgā How to pronounce gay (audio) \

Medical Definition of gay

1 : of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to individuals of one's same sex gay men a gay woman in her 40s often used to refer to men only gay and lesbian members of the community
2 : of, relating to, or intended for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. gay issues

Gay biographical name

\ ˈgā How to pronounce Gay (audio) \

Definition of Gay

John 1685–1732 English poet and dramatist

More from Merriam-Webster on gay

Nglish: Translation of gay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gay for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gay


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