Word of Today

gayyoudaoicibaDictYouDict[gay 词源字典]
gay: [13] English borrowed gay from Old French gai, an adjective of uncertain origin connected by some with Old High German gāhi ‘sudden, impulsive’. ‘Happy’ is its ancestral meaning, stretching back to Old French gai. The 20thcentury sense ‘homosexual’, which first came into general use in the 1950s, can probably be traced back to the 17th-century meaning ‘sexually dissolute’.

By the early 19th century it was being applied specifically to the world of prostitution, and it seems not unlikely that male prostitutes and their male clients could have been the vector for the present-day usage. A reported 1868 song by the US female impersonator Will S. Hays was supposedly called ‘The Gay Young Clerk in the Dry Goods Store’, but it is not entirely clear what ‘gay’ is supposed to have meant here, and the earliest reliable printed record of the ‘homosexual’ sense is from 1933.

The adjective underwent a further semantic flipflop in the early 21st century, when kids’ slang commandeered it, paradoxically, for ‘sad’.

[gay etymology, gay origin, 英语词源]