\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

If confirmed, the Conseil d’Etat’s stance would open the door to a major extension of gay rights in France. NBC News, "France has no reason to bar lesbians from IVF, top court advises," 6 July 2018 In the wake of criticism from gay-rights groups, Indiana added a compromise measure to its law and Arkansas passed a narrower version of its original bill. Sarah Nassauer, WSJ, "Walmart Takes a Stand on Guns, Gay Rights to Get People to Like It More," 5 July 2018 His opinion ended up skirting the broader issue and instead voicing support for both gay rights and religious freedom. David G. Savage,, "Supreme Court this year gave a preview of things to come: Wins for Trump, employers and Republicans," 1 July 2018 The Society for Human Rights, founded by German immigrant Henry Gerber in 1924, focused specifically on gay male rights and was inspired by a similar organization in Berlin. Kitty Stryker, Teen Vogue, "Why Police Aren't Welcome at Pride," 22 June 2018 But for every man threatened by the idea of their razor company supporting gay rights, there are many more who dig the idea. Cam Wolf, GQ, "The Rules of the Gym, According to the Hot Dudes of ‘Insecure’," 21 June 2018 Pride Month is all about celebrating the LGBTQ community and honoring the 1969 Stonewall riots, which sparked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "Milk Makeup Launched a Glitter Collection for Pride Month," 4 June 2018 Fully support equality for women & people of all races, & gay rights. Edmund Demarche, Fox News, "Porn star attorney Avenatti appears to be trying out slogan, 'Make America America Again'," 13 July 2018 The party was not trusted on the economy and was associated with stances on welfare, gay rights and the death penalty that too many voters found strange or threatening. The Economist, "Fork in the roadShould the party move to the left or to the centre?," 12 July 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

3 Nov 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).


to express warning or disapproval

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