\ 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

Trantalis is the first openly gay mayor of Fort Lauderdale. Anthony Man,, "Broward LGBT activists give fundraising assist to Miami-Dade congressional candidate," 11 July 2018 At the time, The RuPaul Show was one of only a few talk-show-style programs with an openly gay host. Bridget Read, Vogue, "RuPaul Is Filming a Daytime Talk Show," 11 July 2018 Her announcement set up a race pitting an openly gay liberal activist against a two-term incumbent with a $30 million war chest and possible presidential ambitions. Jaclyn Reiss,, "Cynthia Nixon will be at a meet-and-greet in Mass. Thursday night," 5 July 2018 The openly gay Florian Philippot was the vice-president of France’s National Front until last year. The Economist, "Europe’s anti-immigrant parties are becoming more gay-friendly," 5 July 2018 Following Rogers’ lead, Martin is now Major League Soccer’s second openly gay athlete. Kyle Eliason, Pro Soccer USA, "Minnesota’s Collin Martin comes out as second openly-gay player in MLS history," 29 June 2018 Oh, okay, so no shade to my gay brothers and my lesbian sisters and all of the above, this is officially for my trans sisters. Patrick Crowley, Billboard, "Mj Rodriguez's Pride Month Playlist: Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Ariana Grande & More," 26 June 2018 Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe will be the first openly gay couple on the cover of ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue. Morning Brief, The Seattle Times, "WSU quarterback Hilinski had CTE; travel ban upheld | Tuesday Morning Brief, June 26," 26 June 2018 Qiu Miaojin, the first openly gay woman in Chinese literature, migrated halfway around the world, from Taiwan to Paris. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "This Month in Books: ‘We Have Nothing to Weigh Our Hearts Against’," 13 June 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

22 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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