The Meaning of Gay: What It Is and How To Use It

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

Do you know what it means if someone is gay or a part of the LGBT community? Do you know the secondary definition of gay? This article will provide both definitions of the word gay and teach you how to use this word in a sentence appropriately. 

Keep reading to learn all about what it means to be gay!

What Does Gay Mean?

Dictionary states that the word gay has two definitions. The first and most common definition of the word gay is a sexual orientation in which someone is attracted to their own sex or gender. 

Usually, gay means a gay man or homosexual man, but the word gay can also be used as an umbrella term for all gay people, including a gay woman or nonbinary person. 

Gay also has a more archaic definition which means happy, merry, or lively. Using this definition might cause confusion for people. If you describe someone else as gay to explain that they’re happy, people might be under the impression that they are LGBTQ. Always make sure that you clarify and try to steer clear from using this definition of the word gay. 

The pronunciation of the word gay is ɡeɪ. The word gay also uses superlatives, which are gayer and gayest. The noun form of the word gay (meaning happy) is gaiety.

What Is the Etymology of Gay?

The original definition of the word gay entered Middle English as the word gai between 1275 and 1325. This word is of Germanic origin, from the Old French gai and the Old High German gāhi.

How Can We Use Gay in a Sentence?

Below, you will find many example sentences that contain the word gay. Never use the word gay to insult or disparage someone, and make sure that you only describe someone as gay if they have explicitly told you that you can. You would never want to out someone without their permission or knowledge. 

Example #1

The young woman was grateful to find support in the gay community when her family shunned her for being LGBT.

Example #2

We volunteer with gay and lesbian elders on the weekends and love hearing their stories about gay clubs in the 60s and 70s. It is sad to hear about how many friends they lost to AIDS.

Example #3

The person originally thought they were a gay man, but then they started questioning their gender identity and realized they were actually a transgender woman.

Example #4

We march in the streets in support of gay rights and for the people who came before us.

Example #5

The young woman realized her sexual attraction to women when she was in high school, but she was afraid of coming out because her family thought that gay life and the LGBTQ lifestyle were corrupt. In college, she learned that they were incorrect.

Example #6

The people at the gay bar were annoyed by the loud, straight bachelorette party.

Example #7

We went to the gay pride parade in June and had a great time.

What Are Translations of Gay?

To learn how to say the word gay in other languages besides the English language, you can use this list of translations of the word gay from Nice Translator. These translations are for the first definition of gay, meaning attracted to the same gender. 

  • Norwegian: homofil
  • Arabic: مثلي الجنس
  • Romanian: gay
  • Urdu: ہم جنس پرست
  • Greek: γκέτος
  • Portuguese (Portugal): gay
  • Telugu: గే
  • Serbian: геј
  • German: Fröhlich
  • Welsh: hoyw
  • Amharic: ጋይ
  • Dutch: gay
  • Marathi: समलिंगी
  • Icelandic: hommi
  • Filipino: bakla
  • Slovak: homosexuálny
  • Bengali: সমকামী
  • Basque: gauer
  • Gujarati: લૈંગિક
  • Italian: gay
  • Malayalam: ഗെയ്
  • Chinese (PRC): 同性恋
  • Japanese: ゲイ
  • Kannada: ಸಲಿಂಗಕಾಮಿ
  • Malay: gay
  • Korean: 게이
  • Ukrainian: гей
  • Slovenian: gej
  • Indonesian: gay
  • Latvian: gejs
  • Russian: гей
  • Turkish: eşcinsel
  • Finnish: homo
  • Danish: homoseksuel
  • French: gay
  • Estonian: gei
  • Swahili: mashoga
  • Spanish: gay
  • Portuguese (Brazil): gay
  • Bulgarian: Гей
  • Catalan: gai
  • Lithuanian: gėjus
  • Hungarian: meleg
  • Croatian: gay
  • Hebrew: הומו
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 同性戀
  • Hindi: समलैंगिक
  • Thai: เกย์
  • Tamil: கே

What Are Synonyms of Gay?

You can use many words in place of the word gay, especially for the secondary definition of gay. If you want to use the word gay to mean happy, it is a better idea to use a synonym instead of the word gay so that people are not confused. 

Take a look at this list of synonyms of gay from Power Thesaurus.

  • animated
  • blissful
  • bright
  • bubbly
  • buoyant
  • carefree
  • cheerful
  • cheery
  • chipper
  • chirpy
  • convivial
  • debonair
  • effervescent
  • enjoyable
  • festal
  • festive
  • flirty
  • frolicsome
  • glad
  • gladsome
  • gleeful
  • happy
  • high-spirited
  • hilarious
  • jocular
  • jocund
  • jolly
  • jovial
  • joyful
  • joyous
  • jubilant
  • laughing
  • lesbian
  • light
  • lighthearted
  • lively
  • merry
  • mirthful
  • peppy
  • perky
  • playful
  • spirited
  • sportive
  • sprightly
  • sunny
  • vivacious
  • vivid

What Are Antonyms of Gay?

Power Thesaurus also lists several antonyms of the second definition of the word gay.

  • agitated
  • angry
  • annoyed
  • antsy
  • anxious
  • apprehensive
  • bothered
  • concerned
  • confused
  • dejected
  • depressed
  • desolate
  • despondent
  • disconcerted
  • disquieted
  • distraught
  • distressed
  • disturbed
  • down
  • downcast
  • edgy
  • excited
  • flustered
  • gloomy
  • glum
  • hurt
  • jittery
  • jumpy
  • melancholy
  • miserable
  • nervous
  • overwrought
  • perturbed
  • restless
  • sad
  • saddened
  • sorrowful
  • tense
  • troubled
  • uneasy
  • unhappy
  • unnerved
  • unquiet
  • unsettled
  • uptight
  • worried


The word gay is usually used to describe a person who is attracted to the same sex or gender. In past decades, the word gay used to mean happy or cheerful. Nowadays, people might get confused if you use the word gay to mean happy, so it is a good idea to use a synonym of the word gay instead.


Gay synonyms – 1 827 Words and Phrases for Gay | Power Thesaurus 

Gay antonyms – 424 Opposites of Gay | Power Thesaurus 

Gay | Nice Translator 

Gay Definition & Meaning |