The Name Of The Word Essay

The Name Of The Word Essay

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Throughout history, people have been known to give words different meanings. These “word fads” can be something positive, or in other cases they can be demeaning and degrading. In today’s culture, the word “gay” has come to mean many things, and it has turned into a huge controversy amongst many groups of people.
The word gay has been used since the late 14th century. It’s original use was to describe something or someone as “full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree”. The exact origin of the word is unknown due to an uncertain difference amongst France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. One of the possible origins is from the Old French word gai, meaning “joyful, happy; pleasant, agreeably charming; forward, pert”. Through time, people began to focus on the “carefree” segment of the definition, which began the era of its usage to describe one’s way of living. By the 1890s, the word began to mean promiscuity; an example of this would be calling a brothel a gay house. Record shows it can be traced of having an immoral meaning all the way back to the 17th century. Webster Dictionary changed their definition during this time to "addicted to pleasures and dissipations. Often euphemistically: of loose and immoral life". Although some people likely didn’t agree with their choices, it still was not a significant religious or political conflict, or even an insult, to most.
The word started off being used for anyone who was considered a sexual person, meaning they had sex with a prostitute regularly. It didn’t become something associated with a homosexual male until 1893, when the term “gay cat” came to be. A gay cat was someone who is “a young hobo; new on the road, also one who sometimes does job.” "Experienced" bums often mistreated gay ca...


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... a broader mind, and came to the realization that no matter how people were defining the word, it still referred to someone’s life choices. It was no different than someone who chose to do drugs, or play sports. Being gay should not be used in a circumstance of insulting a person, or seen as a flaw – it is merely a person’s attraction to someone of the same sex. The true ”new” definition of gay can be seen as a connotation or a denotation, depending on the listener’s values and beliefs.

In modern times, the definition for gay has somewhat become an antonym from it’s original definition. Starting out as word meaning peppy, and joyful – to turning into something used to describe a bad situation or a “deadly” sin. The definitions are ever changing and rarely are they unsusceptible to change. Words can be extremely powerful, but only if a society allows them to be.

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