\ ˈgā How to pronounce gay (audio) \

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 intended for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. the gay rights movement a gay bar



Definition of gay (Entry 2 of 3)

: homosexual especially : a homosexual male


biographical name
\ ˈgā How to pronounce Gay (audio) \

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

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

Adjective The band was playing a gay tune. the gayest of the spring flowers Noun a bar that is frequented by gays
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective At the time, it was still often seen as the peculiar affliction of a vilified social group, not just a medical problem but a moral one, from which gay men suffered precisely because of the practices that expressed their identities. Michael Gorra, The New York Review of Books, "Young Woman from the Provinces," 11 Feb. 2020 For a gay 38-year-old former mayor of a midsize city and a 78-year-old democratic socialist to emerge on top in Des Moines is a sign of how far the party has to go to settle the battle for its future. Time, "Forget Iowa. The Democrats Now Have Bigger 2020 Problems," 6 Feb. 2020 Burnap, 28, originated the role in the original award-winning London production, which transposes E.M. Forster’s classic novel Howards End to 21st-century New York to tell the story of a group of gay men from various generations. Nigel Smith, PEOPLE.com, "The Inheritance's Andrew Burnap Lives His Life to the 'Fullest' in Broadway's 7-Hour Epic," 18 Dec. 2019 In 2009, Houston elected its first openly gay mayor, with voters handing a solid victory to City Controller Annise Parker after a hotly contested runoff with former city attorney Gene Locke. BostonGlobe.com, "In 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the US Constitution.," 13 Dec. 2019 Taiga Ishikawa, the first openly gay man elected to the country’s Parliament told the New York Times. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "A Writer Called Pete Buttigieg a “Lying MF.” Then Buttigieg Called Him.," 27 Nov. 2019 The gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is among the top-polling candidates after starting out as a long shot. Washington Post, "Anxiety over Supreme Court arguments pervades Coming Out Day," 13 Oct. 2019 But this time around, Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old gay mayor of a small Indiana city (South Bend) half the size of Des Moines, is acing the listening test. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Pete Buttigieg’s Undeniable Allure," 4 Oct. 2019 Gentry, who was on the council from 1982 to 1994, was one of the first openly gay mayors in the U.S. Tickets to the event are $45. Daily Pilot, "Around Town: OCC book festival nets appearance from Lakers legend and author Kobe Bryant," 3 Oct. 2019 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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Time Traveler for gay

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for gay

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gay?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=g&file=gay00001. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for gay

How to pronounce Gay (audio)

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
old-fashioned : 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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on gay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gay

Spanish Central: Translation of gay

Nglish: Translation of gay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gay for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about gay

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