The paper "Mapping Processes Of Semantic Change" is a wonderful example of an essay on English. The Oxford English Dictionary s the meaning of the term “ gay” as “ light-hearted and carefree, brightly coloured, and showy. ” The same dictionary also defines “ gay” for homosexuals (Kindersley, Dorling et al). Earlier, “ the Oxford dictionary gives as one of the 17th-century meanings of gay: "Addicted to social pleasures and dissipations; often euphemistic: Of immoral life" (Wave a gay goodbye). Indeed, now the word has almost become a synonym for homosexuality in the slang. Of all the slang “ gay” is the most popular.
“ Of the teachers of Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) interviewed, 83% said they heard it being used regularly and much more than its nearest rivals, bitch (59%) and slag (45%) (Winterman, Denise). In the 19th century, the term “ gay” was used to convey gaiety, joyfulness, and a cheerful spirit. The word “ gay” was used in literature and especially poems to portray an environment of joy and gladness. No doubt, “ gay” was also an indicator for homosexuals. But this usage was on the sly. It was not a straight term for homosexuality.
The change in use of the term “ gay” for homosexuality began to take place in the 1930s “ probably from America” (Wave a gay goodbye). It was not until the early 1990s that the term “ gay” became officially associated with homosexuality. Between the 1930s and 1990s, the grey area in the use of this word was markedly vexing because of its proximity to homosexuality. People began to avoid the use of the term “ gay” for joyfulness. It also did not sound decent in literary circles.
Not that people seriously objected when someone did use this term. But at the back of their minds, people preferred it was not used. In the 1990s, the term “ gay” became the standardized term for homosexuals. Even in literature, this term is actively used to connote homosexuality (Wave a gay goodbye).