Lesbian Dictionary: English

How to say lesbian in English

English is an Indo-European language spoken by over 500 million people and is official in more than 80 countries and territories. The national varieties of English, as well as Polari slang or Cockney rhyming slang create specific words from particular regions and others that travel from one place to another while retaining its meaning or exchanging it for another similar or radically different.

The terms for lesbians are much less common than those used for gays, a fact that is related to the higher invisibility of the lesbian people in the past. No current term goes back before the 1920s. As it has happened in other countries like Finland, were known lesbian sex and women who looked as men, but it was not conceived that a woman could feel emotional and erotic inclination for another woman. In this sense, from the 18th century there are references to sex between women called "the game of flats"; as well as the known “Boston Marriage”, which refers to the relationship of two spinsters in the 19th century, but have not found words to name those involved. The reasons for this may be in issues that affect them more for being women than for being lesbians.


The majority of the terms are originally created by straight people, so somehow expressed contempt and hostility that fear of homosexual behavior produced and continues producing, although in many cases the passage of time has been erased all that negativity and ended up being incorporated into normal speech and even into LGBT vocabulary.

Following the classification of Professor William A. Percy we can relate the terms and expressions of our English Gay Dictionary in 3 groups:

  1. For masculine lesbians.

  2. For feminine lesbians.

  3. Masculine women who may be lesbians.

The words and expressions of our English Gay Dictionary have been obtained from many different sources, but unlike many of these sources, which are copies from one another, each of the items has been analyzed, investigated, contrasted and expanded within the posibilities. During the making of this dictionary we have met with the revealing, extensive and excellent work of William Percy, professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, not quoted as a source but rather as approach.


Bull-dyking woman

Term Definition
Bull-dyking woman

expression which, with Bulldyker, disputes the podium to be the first form of appoint disparagingly the masculine lesbians, appearing in the black circles of Blues of the 20s in the United States. Surprisingly for the time, in the Blues abound references to love and sex between women (men too). Ma Rainey (1886-1939), known as the mother of the Blues, so said in his famous song "Prove It On Me":

"They say I do it, ain't nobody caught me, sure got to prove it on me; went out last night with a crowd of my friends, they must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men."

Ma Rainey, the mother of the Blues, also spoke of lesbian love in her songs.

Ma Rainey, the mother of the Blues, also spoke in his songs of love between women.

Variations Bull-dyking.

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