\ 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 Kate McKinnon spoke candidly about being gay while presenting the Carol Burnett Award to Ellen DeGeneres. New York Times, "Golden Globe Winners 2020: The Complete List," 5 Jan. 2020 It is set largely in the Afghanistan of 1970s, and is a coming of age story of a young gay man and his struggle to find love in the face of brutal persecution. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Wondering what to read next? Here’s what Sonali Bendre’s book club read in 2019," 27 Dec. 2019 There are holiday concerts, and then there are gay men’s chorus holiday concerts. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "CT’s two gay men’s choruses will make your Yuletide merry and bright with these two all-inclusive holiday concerts," 26 Nov. 2019 On average, poll respondents guessed that 32% of Democrats were gay and that 38% of Republicans earned over $250,000. The Economist, "Why Obama-Trump swing voters like heavy metal," 16 Nov. 2019 But Syria – like much of the Middle East and North Africa region – is a dangerous place to be gay. Deina Abdelkader, The Conversation, "Deportation to Syria could mean death for women, children and LGBTQ refugees in Turkey," 22 Oct. 2019 The one who can’t keep a secret when Lalo Guerrero takes him out for a burrito and wants to know, once and for all, if his son is gay. Daily Pilot, "Two boyhood friends, Dan Guerrero and Carlos Almaraz, and the documentaries about the history they’ve made," 17 Oct. 2019 Being a gay woman in coaching brought more – especially during the early years. Alicia Delgallo, Pro Soccer USA, "Jill Ellis content as she closes USWNT career marked by unprecedented success, challenges," 5 Oct. 2019 The small-city mayor, who would be the first openly gay president, has grappled with questions about his ties to Wall Street and wealthy donors for several weeks. Darlene Superville, The Denver Post, "Buttigieg-Warren clash on campaign trail spills into debate," 19 Dec. 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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gay.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gayness. Accessed 17 January 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

Comments on gay

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