LGBT slang

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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.[1][2]

History and context[edit]

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.[2][3][4] Since the advent of queer studies in universities, LGBT slang and argot has become a subject of academic research among linguistic anthropology scholars.[5]

The Butch and Femme society

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.[1][6] 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.[7][8] SCRUFF launched a gay-slang dictionary app in 2014, which includes commonly used slang in the United States from the gay community.[9] Specialized dictionaries that record LGBT slang have been found to revolve heavily around sexual matters.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

In the Philippines, many LGBT people speak with Swardspeak, or "gay lingo", which is a more extensive use of slang as a form of dialect or way of speaking. Other argots are spoken in southern Africa (Gayle language and IsiNgqumo) and Indonesia (Bahasa Binan).

General slang terms[edit]

  • 100-footer – an obviously gay or lesbian person (as if visible from 100 feet away) (US)[13]
  • Achillean or MLM (man-loving-man) – an umbrella term for attractions and relationships between men, regardless of their sexual or romantic orientation, sometimes including non-binary androphiles[14][15][16]
  • baby gay – a young or recently out gay person (US)
  • baths – bathhouses frequented by gay men for sexual encounters (US)[17]
  • beach bitch – a gay man who frequents beaches and resorts for sexual encounters (US)[17]
  • beard – a person used as a date, romantic partner, or spouse to conceal one's sexual orientation[18]
  • beat – having or seeking anonymous gay sex (Australia)
  • bent – gay, as opposed to straight (UK)[17]
  • bi-fi – bisexual+ version of gaydar (US)
  • binding – a technique in which individuals wear tight clothing, bandages, or compression garments, known as binders, to hide and flatten their breasts
  • boi – a boyish lesbian (UK)[19]
  • bottom – a passive male partner in intercourse; also used as a verb for the state of receiving sexual stimulation[17]
    • power bottom – someone who dominantly or energetically plays the receptive role in intercourse[20]
  • bussy – portmanteau of "boy pussy", the anus/rectum of a passive male partner. In reference to a transgender male partner, this can be either their anus or vagina.[21][22]
  • butch queen – a masculine-looking drag queen[23]
  • butchy femme – a gender expression between femme and futch[24]
  • camp, campy – effeminacy, effeminate[17]
  • clone – a San Francisco or New York Greenwich Village denizen with exaggerated macho behavior and appearance (US)[17]
  • closeted – keeping one's sexuality or gender identity a secret from others (US)[17]
  • cocksucker – a person who practices fellatio, usually a gay male (US)[17]
  • come out (of the closet) – to admit or publicly acknowledge oneself as non-heterosexual/non-cisgender (US)[17]
  • cottaging – having or seeking anonymous gay sex in a public toilet, or 'cottage' (UK)[25]
  • cruising – seeking a casual gay sex encounter (historically from ancient Rome)[17][26]
  • down-low – homosexual or bisexual activity, kept secret, by men who have sex with men (US)[27][28][29][30]
  • en femme, en homme – the act of wearing clothes stereotypically of the opposite sex[31]
  • fag hag – a woman who associates mostly or exclusively with gay and bisexual men (US)[32]
  • femboy, tomgirl – a feminine or androgynous male[33][34]
  • femme – a feminine homosexual (US)[13]
  • folx – a shorter alternative to folks[35]
  • futch – a gender expression between femme and butch, or a feminine butch[24]
  • Game of Flats – an 18th century English term for sex between women[36]
  • gaydar – the intuitive ability of a person to guess someone's sexual orientation
  • gaymer – a gay gamer
  • gaysian – a gay Asian person[37]
  • gold star – a homosexual who has never had heterosexual sexual intercourse (US)[13]
  • platinum star gay – gay men who were born by a C-section procedure (US)[38]
  • heteroflexible – to be mostly heterosexual[39]
  • homoflexible – to be mostly gay
  • horatian – from the belated nineteenth century, term utilized at Oxford amongst Lord Byron along with his compatriots to a bisexual individual; a bisexual+ masculine person (UK)
  • Molly and Tommy – In 18th century England, the term "molly" was used for male homosexuals, implying effeminacy; "tommy", a slang term for a homosexual woman in use by 1781, and may have been coined by analogy. See Molly house.[40]
  • packing – the act of wearing padding or a phallic object to present the appearance of a penis[41]
  • passing – the act of being perceived by others as a cis person of one's preferred gender identity[42]
  • poz – HIV-positive person (US)[43]
  • tucking – a technique whereby an individual hides the crotch bulge of the penis and testicles so that they are not conspicuous through clothing[44]
  • 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[26]
  • sapphic or WLW (woman-loving-woman) – synonymous with lesbian,[45] but used nowadays to encompass attractions and relationships between women, regardless of their sexual or romantic orientation, sometimes including non-binary gynephiles[46][47]
  • side – someone who prefers not to have anal sex
  • swish – effeminate or effeminacy (US)[48][49]
  • top – the dominant or inserting sexual partner, usually in a homosexual relation or activity[43]
    • service top – a submissive top, someone who applies sensation or control to a bottom, but does so at the bottom's explicit instructions
  • 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

Terms describing gay men[edit]

Bears at the 2009 Marcha Gay in Mexico City
  • artiste – a gay man who excels at fellatio (US)[17]
  • auntie – an older, often effeminate and gossipy gay man (US)[17]
  • bathsheba – a gay man who frequents gay bathhouses (US)[17]
  • chubby chaser – a man who seeks overweight males (US)[17]
  • cockstruction worker – a gay, bi or queer man who works in construction industry[50]
  • cupcake – young attractive man, usually a jock type, with a good body.[citation needed]
  • daddy – a typically older gay man (US)[43]
  • Finocchio (from Italy, meaning fennel)[51]
  • Flit[52]
  • Flower[53]
  • Friend of Dorothy[54]
  • Gaysian, referring to a gay Asian[55]
  • Light in the loafers,[56] Light in the pants,[56] or Light in the fedora[56]
  • 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[26]
  • Queen[26]
    • Bean queen (also taco queen or Salsa queen), gay man attracted to Hispanic men[57]
  • Brownie queen, obsolete slang for gay man interested in anal sex (used by men who disliked anal sex)[58]
  • Chicken queen, older gay man interested in younger or younger appearing men[59]
  • Grey queen, a gay person who works for the financial services industry (this term originates from the fact that in the 1950s, people who worked in this profession often wore grey flannel suits).[60]
  • Potato queen, gay Asian man attracted mainly to white men.[61]
  • Rice queen, gay man attracted mainly to East Asian men.[61]


Terms describing lesbians[edit]

A member of the Dykes on Bikes motorcycle club
  • baby butch – a young, boyish lesbian (US)[17]
  • baby dyke – a young or recently out lesbian (US)[13]
  • bambi lesbian – a lesbian who prefers cuddles, hugs, kisses, and other affectionate and sensual non-sexual acts over sexual acts[90]
  • Bean flicker – Likening the clitoris to a bean"[91]
  • boydyke – a lesbian with male presentation[92][93]
  • bull dyke – a masculine lesbian, as opposed to a baby butch or dinky dyke (US)[17]
  • butch – a masculine lesbian[17][94][95]
  • Carpet muncher (or "rug muncher")[96][97]
  • Dyke ("bull dyke", "bull dagger", alternatively "bulldagger", "bulldicker"[98]), from 1920s black American slang. A slur reclaimed by women who are attracted to women in the 1950s[26][99][100][101]
  • dykon – a celebrity woman who is seen as an icon by lesbians; may or may not be a lesbian herself (US)[13]
  • gouine (in French)[citation needed]
  • Kiki – a term used primarily from the 1940s until the 1960s to indicate a lesbian who was not butch or femme and did not have a preference for either butch or femme partners[105]
  • Kitty puncher or pussy puncher, with both "kitty" and "pussy" referring to a woman's vagina, and "puncher" as a variation on various derogatory terms for gay men, such "donut puncher".[106]
  • lesbian until graduation (LUG) – a woman who experiments with bisexual or homosexual activity during school only[107]
  • lipstick lesbian – a lesbian/bisexual woman who displays historically feminine attributes such as wearing make-up, dresses, and high heels[108]
  • muff-diver – a lesbian[109][110][111]
  • pillow princess – a lesbian who prefers to receive sexual stimulation (to bottom) (US)[13]
  • sapatão (Brazil)[112] or fufa (Portugal)
  • soft butch – an androgynous lesbian, in between femme and butch (US)[13]
  • stem, stemme – someone whose gender expression falls somewhere between a stud and a femme[113]
  • stone butch – a very masculine lesbian, or a butch lesbian who does not receive touch during intercourse, only giving (US)[13]
  • stud – a black butch[114][115]

Terms describing bisexuals[edit]

  • AC/DC – reference to "swinging both ways" (US)[116]
  • Bicon – portmanteau of the words bisexual and icon. Used to refer to a bisexual celebrity[117]
  • Gillette Blade – a 1950s era term for bisexual women, whose sexuality "cuts both ways"[118]
  • Switch hitter – from the baseball term
  • Unicorn/Hot Bi Babe (HBB) – a bisexual person who desires multiple partners and is willing to join an existing married couple (known as a "Dyad", versus a "Triad" when there are three people),[119] the presumption being the "unicorn" will date and become sexually involved with both members of the couple.[120] "Unicorns" are so named because people willing to agree to such arrangements are rare, whereas couples looking for a lover who will agree to these terms are common. "Dyads" actively seeking unicorns are called "unicorn hunters".[121] Urban Dictionary defines a unicorn as "a bisexual person, usually though not always female, who is willing to join an existing couple, often with the presumption that this person will date and become sexually involved with both members of that couple, and not demand anything or do anything that might cause problems or inconvenience to that couple." has appreciated this definition and said, "They're called unicorns, because bisexuals like these don't (or rarely) exist."[122]

Terms describing androgynous or intersex people[edit]

  • Futanari (ふたなり, "to be of two kinds", seldom: 二形, 双形, lit. "dual form") – Japanese word for hermaphroditism, which is also used in a broader sense for androgyny.[123][124]: 79, 81  However, this term is also heavily associated with a genre of Japanese animated pornography defined by sexualization of characters who possess female secondary sexual characteristics yet both male and female genitalia.[125][126]
  • Hermie – an androgynous or intersex person, often considered a slur.[127]
  • altersex – a term describing an alternative sex in fiction or a body plan that is usually inaccessible in real life.[128][129]

Terms describing transgender and non-binary people[edit]

  • boymoder – a transgender woman who socially presents in a masculine gender role, typically in places were transgender individuals are discriminated against, or due to not being out as transgender.[130]
  • copenhagen capon – a transsexual person (in reference to castration) (US).[17]
  • cuntboy / dickgirl – a female-to-male (FtM) and male-to-female (MtF) transgender/transsexual person, respectively, who has not had genital surgery, sometimes used for fictional characters[131][132]
  • Egg – a transgender person who has not yet realized they are trans;[133] 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
  • enby – a non-binary person. the term derives from the abbreviation 'NB' (US)[134]
  • Hon – a non-passing transgender woman. This term is primarily used by trans women in online communities, especially 4chan, which it originated from. It is considered derogatory.[130]
  • Lady Boy – English translation of kathoey, similar or equivalent to transgender woman, but may refer to feminine gay men or intersex people.[135]
  • repressor – a person who is fighting the wish to change their gender expression.[130]
  • Shemale – a trans woman with male genitalia and possibly female secondary sex characteristics.[136] Primarily a term used in pornography and often considered derogatory.[137]
  • T-girl – short for trans girl, considered derogatory by some.[138]
  • tranarchist – transgender anarchism.[139]
  • tranny – slur used for transgender people.[140][141]
  • transbian (portmanteau of "trans" and "lesbian") – a transgender lesbian.[142]
  • Trap — a male cross-dresser, whose gender expression is implied to be misleading or deceitful.[citation needed] Considered a derogatory slur, especially toward trans women.[143][144]

Terms related to transgender and non-binary people[edit]

  • chaser – someone who is sexually attracted to transgender people, typically as a fetish. Often derogatory.[130]
  • clock – to recognize someone who is not passing.[130]
  • deadname – as a noun, a transgender person's birth name. As a verb, to refer to someone by their deadname.[130]
  • girldick – a transfeminine person's penis, especially one changed by hormone use. Also known as girlcock or gock.[130]
  • malefail – typically of transfeminine people, to be gendered as feminine when trying to present in a masculine gender role.[130]
  • skoliosexual – to describe attraction to non-binary people.[145][146]
  • stealth – passing to the extent that most people do not know that you are trans.[130]
  • TERF – "trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a transphobe; one that targets trans women and the trans community under the supposed guise of feminism. Also known as gender critical.[147][148][149][150][151][152]

Terms describing cisgender or heterosexual people[edit]

  • breeder – a heterosexual person, especially one with children[153][154]
  • cishet – Someone who is cisgender and heterosexual and/or heteroromantic.[155]
  • chaser – a cisgender person who has a sexual fetish for transgender people, usually transgender women.[156]
  • fag hag – a heterosexual woman who specifically associates with gay men.[157][158][159]
  • fag stag – heterosexual man who enjoys company of gay men.[160]
  • girlfag – a cisgender woman who identifies as a heterosexual woman except in the context of her attraction to gay/bisexual men; in these instances, she regards herself as a gay man too.[161][162]
  • guydyke or lesboy – a cisgender man who identifies as a heterosexual man except in the context of his attraction to lesbian/bisexual women; in these instances, he regards himself as a lesbian too.[163][164][162]

Terms describing asexuality or aromanticity[edit]

LGBT subgroups[edit]

Bears marching in San Francisco's pride parade in 2004

The following slang terms have been used to represent various types of people within the LGBT community:

  • Bear – a larger and often hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. The bear subgroup is among the oldest and largest of the LGBT community. says "Bears are on the heavier side, either muscular, beefy, or chunky. They wouldn't dream of shaving their body hair (which comes in abundance) and they usually have a full beard to match. They exude masculinity, and are some of the kindest men you'll meet in your entire life."[172] Attitude magazine says bears are "typically older" with a big build, a belly, and lots of hair.[173] There are many bear subtypes, including the black bear (Black or African American men), the brown bear (Hispanic men), the grizzly bear ("dominant bears of extreme stature or hairiness"),[174] the koala bear (Australian men),[175] the panda bear (men of Asian descent),[176] and the polar bear, which represents an older bear with white hair.[172]
    • Cub – A cub is a younger bear.[173] describes cubs as "baby bears" or "large, hairy guys in their teens and 20's who are on their way to becoming a bear".[25][43][172]
    • bear chaser – a man who pursues bears[43]
  • Bull – says a bull is a "hunky, muscular" bodybuilder who weighs 200 pounds or more. The website says, "These men are big, strong and have muscles you didn't even know existed."[172] Attitude says bulls have a "super-muscular build" with any hair style, and can be any age.[173]
  • Chicken – A chicken is a young twink.[172] Attitude says chickens are "hairless and young" with a slim or skinny build.[173]
  • Chickenhawk – A chickenhawk is "an older man who sexually pursues younger chickens" or twinks, according to[172]
  • Otter – According to, an otter is "someone who's in between a twink and a bear. Medium build and hairy. Otters come in all ages with all different types of facial hair. Otters often trim their chest hair and manscape their bodies, but always leave at least some hair."[172] Attitude says otters are "typically younger" with a slim or lean build and lots of hair.[173] PinkNews describes an otter as "a man who is especially hairy, but is smaller in frame and weighs considerably less than a bear".[43][177]
  • Pig – A pig is someone who is "more focused on sex than anything else, often into kinkier and somewhat seedier sexual practices", according to[172]
  • Puppy – In animal roleplay, a puppy is a man who wants to be treated like a puppy, "with love and affection", by a handler.[172] Attitude says pups are "young and submissive" with a slender build and little hair.[173]
  • Silver fox – A silver fox is a grey-haired man who is "older with some body hair" and has a "muscular or athletic build", according to Attitude.[173]
  • Twink – a young or young-looking gay man, with little body hair and a slender build[178][25][43]
  • Twunk – a twink with well-developed physique (hunk)[179][180]
  • Wolf – says, "Similar to an otter, a wolf has some hair and is in between a twink and a bear. However, there are some key differences between wolves and otters. Wolves typically have a lean, muscular build and are sexually aggressive."[172] Attitude says wolves are "typically older and masculine" with a "muscular/athletic build".[173][25]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]