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LGBT slang, LGBT speak, or gay slang is a set of slang lexicon used predominantly among LGBT people. It has been used in various languages since the early 20th century as a means by which members of the LGBT community identify themselves and speak in code with brevity and speed to others.
History and context
Because of sodomy laws and threat of prosecution due to the criminalization of homosexuality, LGBT slang has served as an argot or cant, a secret language and a way for the LGBT community to communicate with each other publicly without revealing their sexual orientation to others. Since the advent of queer studies in universities, LGBT slang and argot has become a subject of academic research among linguistic anthropology scholars.
During the first seven decades of the 20th century, a specific form of Polari was developed by gay men and lesbians in urban centres of the United Kingdom within established LGBT communities. Although there are differences, contemporary British gay slang has adopted many Polari words. The 1964 legislative report Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida contains an extensive appendix documenting and defining the homosexual slang in the United States at that time. SCRUFF launched a gay-slang dictionary app in 2014, which includes commonly used slang in the United States from the gay community. Specialized dictionaries that record LGBT slang have been found to revolve heavily around sexual matters.
Slang is ephemeral. Terms used in one generation may pass out of usage in another. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s, the terms "cottage" (chiefly British) and "tearoom" (chiefly American) were used to denote public toilets used for sex. By 1999, this terminology had fallen out of use to the point of being greatly unrecognizable by members of the LGBT community at large.
Many terms that originated as gay slang have become part of the popular lexicon. For example, the word drag was popularized by Hubert Selby Jr. in his book Last Exit to Brooklyn. Drag has been traced back by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to the late 19th Century. Conversely, words such as "banjee", while well-established in a subset of gay society, have never made the transition to popular use. Conversations between gay men have been found to use more slang and fewer commonly known terms about sexual behavior than conversations between straight men.
|100-footer||an obviously gay or lesbian person (as if visible from 100 feet away)||US|||
|ace||short for someone who identifies on the asexual spectrum||global|||
|aro||short for someone who identifies on the aromantic spectrum||global|||
|short for someone who identifies as both aromantic and asexual||global|||
|ace of spades||someone who identifies as an aromantic asexual||global|||
|ace of hearts||someone who identifies as a romantic asexual||global|||
|artiste||a gay man who excels at fellatio||US|||
|auntie||an older, often effeminate and gossipy gay man||US|||
|baby butch||a young, boyish lesbian||US|||
|baby dyke||a young or recently out lesbian||US|||
|baby gay||a young or recently out gay person||US|
|baths||bathhouses frequented by gay men for sexual encounters||US|||
|bathsheba||a gay man who frequents gay bathhouses||US|||
|batty boy||a slur for gay or effeminate man||Jamaica|||
|beach bitch||a gay man who frequents beaches and resorts for sexual encounters||US|||
|bear||a large, often hairy, gay man||global|||
|bear chaser||a man who pursues bears||US|||
|beard||a person used as a date, romantic partner, or spouse to conceal one's sexual orientation||global|||
|beat||having or seeking anonymous gay sex||Australia|
|bent||gay, as opposed to straight||US|||
|bicon||an iconic bisexual+ individual||US|
|bi-fi||bisexual+ version of gaydar||U.S.|
|boi||a boyish lesbian||UK|||
|bottom||a passive male partner in anal intercourse; also used as a verb for the state of receiving sexual stimulation||global|||
|breeder||a heterosexual person, especially one with children||global|||
|brownie queen||a gay man who prefers a passive role in anal intercourse||US|||
|bucket boy||a passive male partner in anal intercourse||US|||
|bull dyke||a mannish lesbian, as opposed to a baby butch or dinky dyke||US|||
|butch, stud||a masculine lesbian||global|||
|cafeteria||repeated fellatio in a backroom or bathhouse||US|||
|camp, campy||effeminacy, effeminate||global|||
|carpet muncher, rug muncher||a lesbian||global|||
|chubby chaser||a man who seeks overweight males||US|||
|clone||a San Francisco or New York Greenwich Village denizen with exaggerated macho behavior and appearance||US|||
|closeted||keeping one's sexuality a secret from others||US|||
|cocksucker||a person who practices fellatio, usually a gay male||US|||
|come out (of the closet)||to admit or publicly acknowledge oneself as non-heterosexual/non-cisgender||US|||
|Copenhagen capon||a transsexual person (in reference to castration)||US|||
|cottage||a public toilet||UK|
|cottaging||having or seeking anonymous gay sex in a public toilet||UK|||
|cotton ceiling||lesbian refusal to have sex with a trans woman, particularly if the trans woman has not undergone sex reassignment surgery (a take-off on the term "glass ceiling", referring to women's underwear)||global|||
|cruising||seeking a casual gay sex encounter (historically from ancient Rome)||global|||
|cub||a typically heavier, hairier, and younger gay man||global|||
|daddy||a typically older gay man||US|||
|doe/stag||a feminine bisexual woman|
|down-low||homosexual or bisexual activity, kept secret, by men who have sex with men||US (African American)|||
|dyke||a masculine lesbian; originally a slur, reclaimed in the 1970s||global|||
|dykon||a celebrity woman who is seen as an icon by lesbians; may or may not be a lesbian herself||US|||
|egg||a (suspected, if referring to someone in the present) transgender person who has not realized they're trans yet. used by transgender people when aspects of one's personality or behavior remind them of gender-related aspects of themselves before they realized they were trans.||global|
|enby||a non-binary person. the term derives from the abbreviation 'NB'||US|||
|en femme, en homme||the act of wearing clothes stereotypically of the opposite sex||global|||
|fag, faggot||a slur against gay men and some transgender women (first recorded in a Portland, Oregon, publication in 1914)||global|||
|fag hag||a woman who associates mostly or exclusively with gay and bisexual men||US|||
|fairy||a stereotypically gay man; originally a slur, reclaimed in the 1960s||global|||
|femme||a feminine homosexual||US|||
|fish||a drag queen who is effeminate enough to pass as a cis woman|
|flamer||an effeminate gay man||global|||
|friend of Dorothy||a gay man||US|||
|fruit||a slur against gay men; originally a stereotype of gay men as "softer" and "smelling good"||global|||
|fudgepacker||a gay man; considered a slur||global|||
|gaydar||the intuitive ability of a person to guess someone's sexual orientation||global|
|gaymer||a gay gamer||global|
|gaysian||a gay Asian person||global|||
|gold star||a gay or lesbian who has only had sexual coital contact with a member of the same gender (in reference to a military award)||US|||
|heteroflexible||to be mostly heterosexual||global|||
|homoflexible||to be mostly gay||global|
|horatian||a bisexual male|
|lesbian until graduation (LUG)||a woman who experiments with bisexual or homosexual activity during school only||global|||
|lipstick lesbian||a lesbian/bisexual woman who displays historically feminine attributes such as wearing make-up, dresses, and high heels||global|||
|otter||a thinner, hairier gay man||US|||
|packing||the act of wearing padding or a phallic object to present the appearance of a penis||global|||
|passing||the act of being perceived by others as a cis person of one's preferred gender identity||global|||
|pillow princess||a lesbian who prefers to receive sexual stimulation (to bottom)||US|||
|poz||a usually gay, HIV-positive person||US|||
|punk||a smaller, younger gay man who, in prison settings, is forced into a submissive role and used for the older inmate's sexual pleasure||global|||
|queen||an effeminate gay man; commonly used in compounds such as "drag queen" or "rice queen"||global|||
|queer||originally a slur against homosexuals, transgender people, and anyone who does not fit society's standards of gender and sexuality; recently reclaimed and used as umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities||global|||
|soft butch, stem, stemme||an androgynous lesbian, in between femme and butch||US|||
|stone butch||a very masculine lesbian, or a butch lesbian who does not receive touch during intercourse, only giving||US|||
|swish||effeminate or effeminacy||US|||
|terf||"trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a transphobe; one that targets trans women under the supposed guide of feminism.||global|||
|tomcat||masculine bisexual woman|
|top||the dominant or inserting sexual partner, usually in a homosexual relation or activity||global|||
|twink||a slim and young-looking, bodily hairless man||global|||
|unicorn||a bisexual person who prefers to hook up with opposite sex couples||US|
|vers, switch||a person who enjoys both topping and bottoming, or being dominant and submissive, and may alternate between the two in sexual situations, adapting to their partner||global|
|wolf||a man who tends to fall evenly between a fox/twink or a bear/cub||UK|||
See also much longer LGBT Wiktionary index.
Gayle (or Gail) is a gay argot or cant slang used primarily by English- and Afrikaans-speakers in urban South Africa. It is similar in some respects to Polari in the United Kingdom, from which some of its lexical items have been borrowed.
IsiNgqumo (or IsiGqumo) is an argot used by gays and lesbians of South Africa and Zimbabwe who speak Bantu languages. IsiNgqumo developed during the 1980s. It has not been as thoroughly researched or documented as Gayle.
Bahasa Binan (or bahasa Béncong) is a distinctive Indonesian speech variety originating from the gay community. It has several regular patterns of word formation, well-documented in both speech and writing.
Although many slang words used in modern Japan are loanwords from American English, many native Japanese slang words remain in Japan's LGBT community.
|bian (ビアン), rezu (レズ)||lesbian|||
|dōseiaisha (同性愛者, literally "same-sex-love person")||a homosexual person|||
|okama (お釜, literally "pot")||a gay man|||
|onabe (お鍋, literally "pan")||a lesbian|||
|ryoutoutsukai (両刀使い, literally "two-sword fencer; expert in two fields; person who likes alcohol and sweets equally well")||a bisexual|||
See also Glossary of Tagalog LGBT terms
Swardspeak (also known as "gayspeak" or "gay lingo") is an argot or cant slang derived from Taglish (Tagalog–English code-switching) and used by LGBT people in the Philippines. It deliberately transforms or creates words that resemble words from other languages, particularly English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German. It is colorful, witty, and humorous, with vocabularies derived from popular culture and regional variations.
|kathoey (Thai: กะเทย; RTGS: Kathoei Thai pronunciation: [kàtʰɤːj])||a trans woman or effeminate gay man|||
Lubunca has been used by the LGBT community in Turkey since the Ottoman era.
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in British ... a lesbian who adopts a boyish appearance or manner
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swish noun [C] (LIKE A WOMAN) › US slang disapproving a man who behaves or appears in a way that is generally considered more suited to a woman, and who does not have traditional male qualities
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swish #n. To overplay or over do homosexual gestures; the traits of an effeminate male homosexual. Source: [1930's] #Passive homosexual. #To walk speak or move in the manner of an weak effeminate boy or man; the stereotype effeminate homosexual.
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The term can be useful for making a distinction with radical feminists who do not share the same position, but those at whom it is directed consider it a slur.
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In the interests of fostering open debate we have set ground rules, both for essays and reader comments: use the pronouns people want you to use, and avoid all slurs, including TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), which may have started as a descriptive term but is now used to try to silence a vast swathe of opinions on trans issues, and sometimes to incite violence against women.
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Terf is now being used in a kind of discourse which has clear similarities with hate-speech directed at other groups…
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Meghan Murphy claims the acronym TERF is 'hate speech' that incites 'violence against women.'
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For some, using the word 'TERF' means calling out transphobia where they see it. For others, the word is a slur that has no place in academic discourse.
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…the term 'TERF', which is at worst a slur and at best derogatory.
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