Gay Dictionary French
How to say gay in French
Below are the words of our French Gay Dictionary that we will expand in new editions. If you know any more, please, contact us. But first some information about the language and where it is spoken.
French is a language of Indo-European family, that is the official language in 29 countries and spoken in 51 different countries by about 300 million people, mainly in France and Argelia.
In France, the homosexuality was decriminalized after their Revolution, in 1791, although it was subsequently penalized in 1960 with the law of "indecent exposure" that was repealed twenty years later, similarly, the age of consent for homosexual sex was varying with time. France has legislation against discrimination and hate speech. In 2013, equal marriage and homoparental adoption were approved, although at the moment lesbians do not have access to assisted fertilization techniques.
In this Gay Dictionary, we highlight the Verlan jargon (in which the order of syllables is changed), terms as funny as Arracheurs de Palissades (fences stripper), curious as the acronym HOLEBI or exclusive of this language as the one of tapette.
Achrien is a neologism invented by the writer Renaud Camus towards 1970, in an age where the term Gay was not yet widespread in France. The word, which seems of Greek origin although it may have been invented, would thus lack any insulting, ridiculous or pathological connotation. Renaud Camus titled some of his writings with this term.+
The word actif translated to English is active. It refers to the man who has the top role in anal intercourse.
Adonis is a term of mythological origin with which a very beautiful young man is usually named. From the 16th century on, it has sometimes been used to point out a homosexual young man. It is also one of the proper names of many young and beautiful Greek heroes and gods, whose names became more or less permanent as a synonym of homosexuality.
Related Adelsward, Adrien, Alcibiade, Alexandre, Alexis, Antinoüs, Bagoas, Boisrobert, Charlus, Chausson, Corydon, Cupidon, Émile, Éphestion, Ganymède, Germiny, Giton, Jésus, Jupiter, Ligurinus, Nicomède, Sardanapale, Socrate, Vautrin, Villette.+
Translated as active or agent. It refers to the man who has the active role in anal intercourse, as opposed to the one receiving, the patient or passive one. The origin of these terms come from the literal translation of the Latin words, and appear for the first time in a Theological moral treaty form the XVI century:
“Moses´ Law (Leviticus) commands the agent as well as the patient to be executed”
J. Benedicti, La Somme des péchés, 1601.
From this moment on, the term became very common in Literature to signal the roles of each of the members in a homosexual relationship. Today it has been substituted by “Actif” (active) or by the anglicism “Top”.
Related: Agir et pâtir.+
Amateur derives from the Latin word “Amatore”, especially in the expression “Pueri amatore” (the one who loves boys). It was used in literature, especially in the crime novel, from the late 18th century until the mid-20th century. It refers to the man who likes young boys. The word is used as gallicism in other languages.
Ami, translated to English, is friend. One of the great universal euphemisms to name the couple of a homosexual man (my friend, his friend, the friend of …). We find it present in literary records at least since the 16th century.+
With Amitier / Amour we have, not only a synonym of homosexual or faggot but a whole series of euphemisms that refer to homosexuality or sodomy as a kind of very special and particular love or friendship. Although over the centuries this type of expression has changed, we can find its origin in the translations of the classics of Greek and Roman literature, being this the first time that this type of euphemism appears in a translation of Plutarch from the 16h Century. This meant a significant change in the perception of homosexual behavior, which for the first time in centuries dared to come out even if timidly, from the frame of reference imposed by the Catholic Church. From the sin of the reviled Sodom to the love and friendship of the admired Greek philosophers and poets.
Among all the expressions that have been used since the 16th century we highlight: “amitié a la grecque / amour grec” (Greek friendship / greek love), ”amour philosophique” (philosophical love), “amour socratique” (socratic love), “amour d´homme” (man’s love), “amour des garcons” (boys love), “amour des mâles” (macho love), “amour d´homme a homme” (love between men), “amour de l´homme por l´homme” (love of man for man), “amour des femmes” (feminine or female love), “amitié(s) particulière(s)” (particular friendship (s)) and “amitié charnelle” (carnal friendship).+
Creole term used to refer to homosexuals in the French Antilles, which can also be found in the Banlieues (suburbs) of the French provincial capitals. The term literally translates as “beneath the leaves” or “camouflaged”, and evidently refers to men who in their public and private life adopt heterosexual codes, while having intercourse with other men. All different types of individuals are included, from the discreet gay, the one inside the closet to the married man with four children who, from time to time, has a fling. It is also used as an adjective of what must be hidden by moral or honor.
Related: Chichi man, Batty boy, Makoumè.+
androphic or androphilic, are expressions of Greek origin meaning “attracted by the male”. Androphile appears at the end of the 19th century, and it was coined by the German sexologist and homosexual rights defender, Magnus Hirschfeld, within a typological classification of male homosexuality based on the age of the object of sexual attraction. Androphilic would be the male attracted, affective, sexually or emotionally by other adult males (from 20 to 50 years). According to this classification also pedophiles, ephebophiles and gerontophiles exist.
Synonyms: Androfilie, Androgamie.+
anti-cunt/pussy. One who does not like women, or who is anti-pussies (being “con” the French word for pussy or vagina). Although it seems incredible, Anticoniste was a term that we could consider cultured and that belonged to the court vocabulary of the 17th century. It was used to point out homosexual men, together with the term “culiste” (the French word “cul” means ass, then “culiste” is one who likes asses). They were used in opposition to heterosexuals, termed as “coniste” (one who likes cunts) or “anticuliste” (one who does not like asses). This division of the world between homosexuals and heterosexuals, though to have originated in the late nineteenth century, would have therefore in these terms and in the court of Louis XIV its oldest references in Europe.+
anti-physical. The idea of homosexual behavior as an act against the established morals and nature has in this expression one of its greatest exponents in the French language of the last two centuries. Both in Greek, from where it takes the prefix and root, and in English language, Antiphysique would be translated as “against nature”. Although it had been used in the field of philosophy since the 16th century, Rousseau and Voltaire used this expression at the beginning of the 18th century to criticize homosexual behavior. The success of this new meaning was immediate, thus entering the Dictionnaire Universel of Trévoux in 1771 with the sense of “unnatural love”. Its use remained as an adjective and noun, and with this same meaning, until the early 20th century.
Synonyms: Antiphysicien, Antiphysique, Antiphysitique, Amour Antiphisique, Crime Antiphisique, Antisalaïste.+
the literal translation of Arracheurs de Palissades is “fence uprooters”. This euphemistic expression appeared in the early 18th century in the court of Louis XV. Among other sources, the article by Mathieu Marais published on August 1722 in The Journal newspaper stands out. It narrated what had happened the previous month in Versailles in the absence of the king. The story went like this: one night in July, the Duke of Boufler, the Marquises of Rambure and d’Alincourt and the Lord of Même went for a walk in a little wood of Versailles. As they say, the smell of flowers intoxicated them and the walk ended up in a cruising scene that someone must have seen. The following day, the whole court was aware, and it caused such a scandal that it ended up with one of the marquises in La Bastille and the rest exiled. There is another version that says that they simply surprised these gentlemen and a few others in the middle of a “country job”, and another that talks about some attempted rape. Whatever the case may be, when the king returned to the palace and asked about the absence of these young gentlemen, no one wanted to face the embarrassment of having to explain the young king, who at that time was only 12 years old, what had happened. This way, they told him that they had been punished for tearing down fences in the garden. And so, from then on, young people with suspicious tastes were called, Arracheurs De Palissades, that is, fence uprooters.
This is what all the references that we have found account for, but the explanation seems pretty watered-down, and we can not rule out that this expression could have its origin in the gay coitus itself, picturing the image of the bottom guy grabbing the fence to withstand the onslaught, a fence that could eventually weaken, move or even fall.+
also written as Artaille, it is an Arabism, a loan from the Algerian Arabic dialect where it has the same injurious meaning of sissy. It is part of the current jargon of the French “banlieues” (suburbs) although we can trace its use in France in the late 60s and early 70s when the number of immigrants from Algeria exceeded one million people after its independence. Today the use of this word is increasingly widespread among young people, regardless of their origin, both in its original version Artaï and in its Verlan version, Ratai.
Variations: Ratai, Artaille, Artail.
Related: Zamel, Ateye, Miboune, Kerfa.+
The literal translation of Au poil et à la plume into the English language is “to hair and feather ” with the same meaning as the English idiom “to oysters and snails”. It is the typical construction that refers to a bisexual person that we can find present in many languages.
We have not found English translation for this term. In its origin, it is a word belonging to the circus world that referred to the people who were dedicated to assemble and disassemble the tents. From this point on, Baltringue came to be used as a synonym for clumsy, incompetent, cowardly, fearful and weak, and while it is with these meanings that it usually appears, in recent years its use to point to homosexuals who are associated with these negative characteristics has increased, just for the simple fact of being homosexual men, as it happens with many words in the world, such as Pato (Latin America) and Finocchio (Italy).+
Bat-contre is a term dating from the 19th century, used to point out the passive (bottom) homosexual man, in the underground world.+
Bathille is one of the terms related to Greek pederasty. It comes from the name of Batiles, one of the young lovers of Polycrates of Samos, in the 6th century BC. Bathille began to be used as a generic word towards the 17th century and its use lasted until the beginning of the 19th century.
Beau literally means beautiful or lovely. It appears as a noun and as a euphemism for passive, young homosexuals from the 16th century.
Related: Blondin, Blondinet.+
Bibi is a term that appears in the Alfred Delvau Erotic Dictionary in the 19th century, to name the youngsters who served to satisfy the libertine pleasures of the old. It is a term with confusing origins, as are many others of the LGBT slang, and although there is a coincidence that it would be a hypocoristic euphemism (as pee, or poo …) it is not clear whether it refers to the term “bichon”, which is a breed of dogs similar to the poodle, or if it has its origin in the patients of Bicetre Hospital, well known in Paris and which was both mental asylum and prison for the poor homosexual men who had been caught in “flagrante delicto”.
In any case, the idiom “to know Mamzelle Bibi” derived from this word. It meant to have a homosexual relationship and became known in the lyrics of a famous Parisian song of anarchist tone from the end of 19, composed by Aristide Bruant; the gentleman in the black cape and top hat that appears on several posters of Toulouse Lautrec.
Since the 19th century there is proof of use of Bichon to name a passive (bottom) homosexual young man, although the term refers to a small and shaggy dog breed (similar to poodles) known for its docile and friendly nature. It is the typical puppy dog or lapdog. It is also used as an affectionate diminutive to refer to children.+
The English translation would be ball-and-stick or cup-and-ball and it refers to a traditional toy composed of a ball with a hole attached to a stick, which aims to make the stick enter the ball with the movement of the hand and the arm. The sexual reference is evident, and from the 19th century, the term was used to indicate the bottom in homosexual intercourse. In Alfred Delvau’s “Dictionnaire de la langue verte” (dictionary of the green language), it is literally defined as “the man who is the toy of another.” Throughout the 20th century, the expression “jouer au bilboquet” (playing bilboquet) was also used to name gay intercourse (also heterosexual). Towards the end of the 70s, it resulted in the expression “bilboquet merdeux” (merdeux translated to English is shit), which was used in the marginal environments to name the bottom homosexual who had some sexual illness.
Related: Casser le pot+
Its translation into English would be little female goat, and it is used to point out the bottom homosexual man, the effeminate homosexual young man and also the beautiful adolescent. Bique comes from the expression “bique et bouc”.
Related: Bique et bouc.+
Bique et bouc is an idiom whose literal translation to English is “to be female goat and male goat”, which originally meant being hermaphrodite. From the hermaphroditism it came to be used to designate bisexual behavior, as well as the sexual versatility within homosexual male intercourse, that is, one who can play the top and bottom role in sex, with the connotations associated with the female goat as a stupid animal, and the male goat, as an animal that stands out for its virile behavior.
It is one of the oldest words used to name homosexual men and we can find this same expression and its derivatives in many European languages, such as Bujarrón in Spanish, Buzerant in Slovak, Bugger in English, Buggerone in Italian or Bougre in German.
It has its origin in the medieval Latin voice “bulgarus” and it refers to the Bulgarians, who the Catholic church identifies with the Bogomil heresy of Manichean tendency from the 10th century on. Among other things they rejected the religious hierarchy and some sacraments like marriage. In the beginning, therefore, the term only referred to the heretics in a very generic way, but it did not take long to relate these heretics to a whole collection of practices considered aberrant and sinful, among which those of a sexual nature were evidently signaled.
Thus, in the 12th century France, the term Bogre (previous form of Bougre) appeared to point to heretics, and in the 13th century we know the use of the feminized term Bogresse existed, curiously used to name women accused of practices “against nature” (understanding them as any type of non-reproductive sexual practice). In this way we can see how, with a higher frequency, heresy began to be associated with sodomy, until in the 14th century, both in France and in Italy, the term became synonymous of sodomite, the later being used to name the top homosexual man in opposition to the bottom, for which other terms like “Bardache” were preferred.
This meaning will be extended to other countries such as Spain, where the first written reference of Bujarrón dates from 1465, and it is still used today with this meaning in Spanish-speaking countries. In the United Kingdom the term Buggery, which appeared for the first time in 1333 related to heresy, is not documented in its sexual sense until the Buggery Act (1533), a law that punished sodomy. Bugger, with this sense, is still used to a greater or lesser extent at present.
However in France the term Bougre and its derivatives followed a different evolution and today they no longer refer to heretics or homosexuals, having even lost many of their negative connotations.
From the end of the 16th century, the term Bougre began to be trivialize and acquired a certain condescending and indulgent tone, although in general and above all in the most cultured and academic language maintained the pejorative character associated with sodomy. It was even mixed with some sympathy, being used in phrases like “un bon bougre” (a good man) or “un pauvre bougre” (a poor man or even a poor wretch, in the most pious and condescending sense). We also find it used in an admiring way :”ah, le bougre !!” or even as a synonym for “lad or kid” in some of the French regional dialectal variants.
To these uses, over time, other uses will be added, such as “bougre of …” (sort of …) followed by some kind of pejorative adjective such as “kind of idiot” or “kind of stingy “, or simply used as a cursing word with no concrete meaning of the type “bougre!” (shit !, fuck!). And the same has been happening with the derivative terms such as Bougrerie which has gone from meaning sodomy to refer to “trickery”, or Bougrement that could be translated as “too much” or “extremely”. Nowadays, in the French language, the association of the term Bougre to sodomy is not evident and belongs to what we can call ancient French.
Variations: Bougrant, Bougre, Bougré, Bougrerie, Bougeron, Bougeronner, Bougeronnerie, Bougrin, Bougrinière, Bougrino, Bigre ,Bigreme.+
Brodeuse translates into the English language as a female embroiderer. A euphemistic term that related homosexuality to typical behaviors of the female sex. It was used between the end of 19 and the beginning of the 20th in suburban slang, to point out very effeminate homosexuals, perhaps to transvestites and which we rarely see nowadays related to homosexuality.
Calicot translated into English is Calico, and it is the name given to a cheap, thin cotton fabric from India, where it was manufactured since the 11th century. In the France of the 18th century, it was used to refer to the homosexual boy who practices prostitution.+
Camarade translated into English is comrade. One of the most common euphemisms in all languages in expressions like, “is his / my friend, buddy, comrade, partner”, although in the French case without reaching the notorious association of the Chinese “tóngzhì”.+
Camp is what we might call a false Anglicism since the term comes from the French expression “se camper” which means posing (in front of someone) in an exaggerated way and that was related to prostitution and Transvestism. From this point, this term passed to the English language at the beginning of the 19 century, with the meaning of exaggerated, effeminate, vulgar, ostentatious, etc… It ended up coining a movement or artistic trend related to kitsch, popular, variegated and even absurd things, that although going beyond a properly sissy aesthetic, is often associated with the LGBT subculture.+
Caroline is a woman’s name that was one of the many euphemistic nicknames used to point out effeminate, transvestite and fairy men towards the 60s and 70s, in the fashion of using words ending in –ine against homosexual men as if they were proper names.
Related: Naphtaline, Gazoline.+
Its literal translation is “chest breaker”, and although initially this popular expression was used to designate a type of spiced or poor quality moonshine, it began to be used against the effeminate or people of homosexual behavior without knowing very well why. And so, in 1857, we found the first written reference in a document of a forensic doctor who explained that it was very appropriate to call these people Casse-poitrine, since this sexual behavior, and the bad quality liquor, had the same pernicious effects on people’s health. Finally, in the 40s, Casse-poitrine appeared in a slang dictionary published in the magazine “Le crapouillot” as synonymous with pédé (faggot, sissy, etc.).+
Casser le pot is an expression used to talk about anal intercourse. Its literal translation would be “to break the flowerpot” or the pan. In the same way the idiom “se faire Casser (le pot)” was used, where “le pot” could be elided, with the meaning of “to make one’s own pot break”. Replace pan or flowerpot for the word ass. We are faced with a fairly graphic and almost universal expression, in which the pot or the cauldron is related to the butt, as is the case with the Japanese word Okama or with the Portuguese Pandeleiro.+
Beaver. It is a term whose relationship with homosexuality has a confusing origin. We know that it is part of the marine jargon and that it was used to designate young sailors as early as the 19th century. From here and from the 1920s, we found the word Castor to point out the young prostitutes since, like the beavers and according to the “abc de la langue francaise” (abc of the French language), they earned their living with the “tail”. This way, the term was later used to designate any homosexual man, as it happens with many terms used for sex workers that end up being used against gays and lesbians.
However, the relationship between the beaver and homosexual men is much older, and already in the 16th century, Pierre de Ronsard relates this animal with the practice of sodomy in a satirical poem where he attacks the supposed homosexual tastes of King Henry III:
“Adieu, cons blondelets […]
Le Roi ne m’aime point pour être trop barbu; II aime à
semencer le champ qui n’est herbu, Et comme un vrai castor chevauche le derrière…”
Whose translation could be:
“Goodbye, blonde pussies […]
The king does not love me for having too much bush, he prefers
to plant fields that are not grassy. And like a true Beaver
he rides asses”+
This expression comes from the Jamaican Creole and has spread throughout the Caribbean, and from there to France especially through immigration and the Raga-Dancehall music scene, known for its violent, macho and tremendously homophobic lyrics, where it is easy to find songs in which it is encouraged to kill or attack the Chichi-man.
In its origin the expression Chichi in Creole makes reference to termites, and although in Internet the usual explanation relates to the fact that termites and gays are considered a plague, it seems nevertheless, that the use of Chichi-man and the relationship with termites has to do with orality, perhaps because of the big mouth, due to the sound or because of the insatiable appetite of the termites “who eat it all”.
We can then distinguish the Chichi-man, the one who practices oral sex, from the batty-man or batty boy, coming from the English term butt, and reserved for those who practice anal sex.
In both cases it seems that these expressions in origin did not refer specifically to sexual orientation, but simply to the concrete sexual practice regardless of whether the actor was homo or hetero, although over time they became the more offensive expressions with which gays are named in Jamaica.
Damoiseau would be the masculine of damsel or young lady, or to be more exact, a young squire, that is, “Young man pertaining to the nobility, that still had not been armed knight”. However, it should be noted, and from here comes the euphemistic relationship with homosexuality, that these guys used to serve as pages to kings and nobles. A model of relationship, the young and beautiful boy with a powerful adult, that over the centuries has always caused many suspicions 🙂 As a curiosity, the first meaning of the word ‘doncel’ (young squire) in Spanish is sweet. Is it random chance?
Effeminate, from the Latin “effeminatus“. It is one of the terms, common in many languages, that perfectly define what gender vigilance is. Qualifying something or someone as effeminate, in addition to insulting and ridiculing, it is intended to point out aspects, attitudes and actions that should be avoided if one wants to be considered a true man. We must bear in mind that being Efféminé in the past, did not imply being a sodomite, in fact its association with homosexual behavior is quite recent, at least in the French language (19th century). However, by associating a man with physical features, and especially with the stereotyped character socially attributed to women (cowardly, passive, weak, fickle, capricious, emotional) his masculinity and manhood are questioned, placing him close to “infamous passions and depraved sexual practices”, since being like a woman makes it possible for him to fuck like them, turning him into something degraded and object of desire at the same time.
In addition, it should be noted that in French language the term Efféminé has been used so much to point out a man who frequented women excessively, a womanizer, as well as a wuss, a man who is dominated by his wife.+
Ass fucked, that who has been fucked. Enculé is a derogatory expression that would express the bottom role in anal intercourse.++
Little woman. Femmelette is the diminutive of the term Femme (woman), frequently used to name both effeminate men and homosexuals directly. The macho vision of women as weak being extended to men who are, according to this vision, like women.+
The word Fif is the Quebecois version of the term Fiotte derived from the term Fille that, although translated into English as girl, it works more as a synonym for effeminate. It is part of the “joual” or sociolect, that is, of a way of speaking of people belonging to the same sociocultural group, in this case, the Canadian Francophones.
As a curiosity, we must remember the title of the short story by Guy de Maupassant “Mademoiselle Fifi”, which turns out to be the nickname of the second lieutenant and Marquis Wilhem d’Eyrik,
“… a blonde guy fierce and brutal with men, hard with the defeated, and violent like a firearm.”
to which the nickname came from:
“his coquettishness, from his thin waist, that could be said to be made by a corset, by his pale face where his nascent mustache barely appeared … “
Variations: Fifi, Fifine.+
Fiotte is a contraction of the term Fillotte, from the dialect of Franche-Comté, which in turn comes from the French language Fillette which means little girl. There are records of the derogatory use of the term since the end of the 19th century, although in origin it seems that the meaning was more that of cowardice or not much virile, pussy. Throughout the 20th century and especially at the end, the term Fiotte, even without losing its sense of cowardice, has been used as a synonym of Pédé (sissy). Others terms like Fiotterie (fagness) or Fiottard (faggot) derive from this word. We already know that it is important in any language to distinguish between the top one (fiottard) and the bottom one (fillotte).
We have only found a reference of this word in the Dictionnaire d’argot Évariste Nouguier (1899) (a slang dictionary). According to this work, Galoubet, besides being a type of flute that accompanied the tambourine in the French Provence, is a term from the Marseillais slang of the late 19th century to name top homosexual men in anal intercourse. Today there is no trace of that use.+
Ganimède is the French word for Ganymede, Jupiter’s satellite, the most beautiful of mortals, Trojan prince and the ideal of male beauty, who made Zeus / Jupiter fall in love with him. Zeus/ Jupiter turned himself into an eagle and took Ganymede to Olympus to become his lover and the cupbearer of the gods.
It is not strange, therefore, that the name Ganimède became, (especially from the 16th century on) a suitable term to name those young guys who, because of their beauty, were worthy of being loved by other men. This gave them a finer connotation than other terms also used at the time, such as Bardache or Giton, which had a more popular meaning and were often associated with prostitution. Despite being referred to with a more fine and cultured term, the ganymedes were not more tolerated than the rest.
At the end of the 17th century the term is included in the dictionaries as a synonym of bardache or as “a young man who offers pleasure and who lets the sin of sodomy be committed with him” (Ph. J. Le Roux, Dictionnaire comique, 1718). This term is quite common in literature until the 19th century, when the term is gradually lost, replaced by more prison slang terms like Tante or Giton. There are some exceptions, though, such as the moment when the novel Teleny, attributed to Oscar Wilde, was translated into French in 1934. It is said that 300 copies were printed for the members of the Ganymède Club of Paris (without any proof of the existence of such a club).
Garage à bite translated to English is Garage of cocks. A very graphic expression that works for both women and men. In the latter case, we obviously talk about a homosexual man who lets himself get fucked by anyone or by many.+
The word Gerboise, used in feminine in French, it is literally translated into English as gerbil, a small long-tailed hopper rodent, also known as desert rat. We have references of its use to name bottom and submissive homosexual men – we assume this is because the appearance of weakness of the animal – from the thirties until the end of the twentieth century.+
It applies to young bottom homosexual men. Its origin is found in the name of the young lover of Encolpius in The Satyricon (60 AD), the literary work of Petronius. Although at the beginning of the 18th century the name became generic in the works of Rousseau or Voltaire (L’Anti-Giton), it also acquired connotations that brought it closer to prostitution and promiscuity, since it was also used to point out the young men maintained by older gentlemen. Throughout the 19th century it began to be used to refer to the bottom homosexual men, and today, although it is still used, it is rare.
HOLEBI comes from the Dutch language, and it is the acronym of HOmoseksueel (homosexual), LEsbisch (lesbian) and BIseksueel (bisexual), and it is used as an acronym of the LGBT type, although sometimes we find it as a synonym of queer. It went from Dutch to the French language spoken in Belgium, through Flemish in the 90s, and although today it is criticized for leaving out collectives such as transsexuals and intersexes, it is quite commonly used in these regions. In addition, it must be taken into account that lesbians are also homosexual people.
Homo is the short form of homosexual.+
Honteuse is the feminine form for the English word shy. At the end of the 19th century and in the street jargon, it was used to name a certain type of “Tantes”, adult fags who lived inside the closet and took great care to go unnoticed. They were the opposite of “Persilleuses” (related to parsley, a term also used for prostitutes) that liked to draw attention.
“de Honteuse, je suis devenu Pédé. De pédés, nous avons accédés, ceux d’entre nous à qui le sentiment de leur dignité n’est pas indifférent, au rang d’homosexuels”.
“from shy I became a sissy. From sissy, those of us for whom the sense of our dignity is not indifferent, acceded to the rank of homosexuals”
Dominique Fernandez, L’Étoile rose, Paris: Grasset, 1978.
The association of Honteuse with homosexuality was such that, even in 1981, in Le Trésor de la Langue Française (The treasure of the French language), one of the examples used with the term Honteux was “Inverti honteux” that is, inverted shy, already in its masculine form (honteux is the masculine form for honteuse).
Ichoglan. The Marquis de Sade in his work Justine defined the Icoglan as the Ganymede of the harems of Asia. And like the Ganymede, Bathile, etc., the term has sometimes been used in French literature (Voltaire, Sade, Lacoste) to name the young and beautiful boys who, in some way, serve and provoke the passion of men, but it also has been used as a synonym for pageboy, or has been mistakenly associated with eunuch, as it appears in French dictionaries from the 18th century.
As for its origin, the term itself is a loan word from Turkish, where we find it in the forms of ichioglan (1586), ichoglan (1624) eicoglan (1710). In that language “oğlan” means “boy, young, adolescent” to which is added the prefix “iç” which means inner, so we can translate this term as “inner boy“, in reference to the palace, and at least initially, it was the equivalent of the young pages that served in the western courts, of which we have spoken with the entry Damoiseau, in this same French Gay Dictionary.
In this sense, it is known that in the 14th century the fondness of the vizier Ali Pacha for beautiful young boys, raised the social status of these pages/servants, who, when turned into lovers, could aspire to be rewarded with positions in the administration of the empire. Thus, already in the 15th century and under the Ottoman control, many of the most beautiful young men of the Byzantine nobility became or were converted into the icoglans of the Sultan. However, over time, the small army of icoglans at the service of the Sultan in the Topkapi Palace, and that some historians number between 350 or 450 watched by 80 eunuchs, was fed mainly by slave prisoners and Christian teenagers, which were kidnapped in the areas of Serbia and Montenegro, in a practice called devshirme or recollection (of children).+
also Petit Jésus (little Jesus) if the person is younger. At the beginning of the 19th century, the use of these expressions is recorded to name young men who practice male prostitution and/or robbery, attracting men of good standing with their charms, to pick them clean or take them to a trap where their Tantes or Chanteurs (pimps) did the rest.
We have also found some authors who define it simply as young effeminate or young man with a sugar daddy. Towards the end of the century and in prison jargon, Jésus became synonymous with passive (bottom) homosexual, but it began to disappear throughout the 20th century.
The sacrilegious use of the name of the “son of god” is evident. In this respect, we find allusions that could have popularized these expressions in the atheist environment of the French Revolution and since the end of the 18th century (Sade, Denis Diderot). They related to the “inconvenient” relationship between Jesus and Saint John or some apostle.
This popular and cantankerous use would have to do with the image of the newborn, kind, gentle, beautiful, innocent and tender “Jesus child” of the churches. That was the image that those newborns in the life of the street had to embody to fulfill their criminal purposes.
Variation: Petit Jésus.
its literal translation is “rabbit”, although it has nothing to do with the tender furry mammal with long ears … or yes it has. Lapin was a term used in French schools between the mid-19th century and the early 20th century, especially in male boarding schools, to name the boy who provided certain services to other boys, sometimes called Chasseurs (hunters). Or more specifically, as it usually appears in many dictionaries of the time, it is defined as a boy who masturbates his companions either for pleasure, servility, obligation or in exchange for “gifts”.
“Terme d’écolier pour désigner celui d’entre eux qui branle ses camarades“
(scholar term to point out the one who jerk his comrades off).
Dictionnaire érotique (erotic dictionary). Alfred Delvau, 1864.
On the origin of the expression, we have, on the one hand, the etymological version, which would relate Lapin with another word from the old French, Lespin, which referred to the prostitutes (male or female), and from which other similar words applied to homosexual boys as Lesbin and Lesbien are derived. It does not have a direct relationship with Lesbiene (lesbian), but we cannot forget the phonetic proximity of Lapin with another term of similar meaning, Tapin.
On the other hand, we have a more elaborate, thought-provoking explanation. Bearing in mind that the French schoolboys had extensive learning in the Latin and Greek languages, and knowing that the symbol of the hare was related to classical pederasty by appearing in a multitude of vessels, as a love offering from the erastés (adult) to the erómeno (young beloved), it can not be ruled out that the boy Lapin became a modernized and captive version of the Greek erómeno, playing the role of passive in amorous or masturbatory relationships.
And although today this expression is no longer used with this meaning, it is common to use the familiar and affectionate expression Mon petit lapin (my little bunny), referring to children.
As a curiosity, tùzǐ 兔子 (rabbit) is a euphemism in the Chinese language to name gay people, with Hu Tianbao (the rabbit god), as the god of homosexual love.+
cleaning cloth. Lavette is used to name a weak man, characterless or coward and hence it is sometimes used to point to homosexual men since, as on so many occasions, the negative characteristics of some men are assigned to homosexual men by the simple fact of being so, characteristics that in this case are also socially assigned to women. There is a whole collection of similar expressions in Quebec, such as Mauviette (weak), Femmelette (little woman) or Moumoune (pussy), which, while not being direct synonymous with sissy, are used to scorn gay people by their feminization.+
Lesbin derives from Lespin, a term from the old French meaning prostitute, and of which we have not found a clear relationship with the term Lesbienne (lesbian), although it is not ruled out since lesbian sex has often been related to prostitutes, as we explained in the terms Gousse and Gouine from our French Lesbian Dictionary. It should also be noted that in many languages the insults and slang terms used against prostitutes end up being used against homosexual men, as in the case of the word Gay.
Its use to point out effeminate men or with homosexual behavior can be traced back to the middle of the 17th century. From it two words would derive, the collegiate Lapin of the 19th century and the Lesbien that we find in some texts of the 19th century.
The word Lope means faggot, and it comes from a series of transformations of the French word “copain” meaning friend. It derived in “copaille” which means colleague, and in the 19th century the union of Parisian butchers, with their jargon called “largonje”, transformed it into “lopaillekem”, meaning faggot. From here, it then transformed into lope and its derivatives.
Variations: Lopette, Lopaille.
it is a Creole expression used in Guadeloupe and Martinique (French Antilles) to call homosexual men. It is a very insulting term, although sometimes, and among friends only, it can be used without explicitly indicating homosexuality, as it happens in the Spanish language with the word Maricón, as in Sakré makoumè (Big fat faggot!). However, this family use is only circumscribed to the most intimate male circle and someone from outside, or especially a woman, should never use this expression to refer to a man.
Its origin is found in the word commère (godmother), and more precisely in the deformation of the expression Ma commère (“my godmother”, “my close friend” between women). In principle, commère was the term used to indicate the existing relationship between the godmother and the godfather. However, this word, both in French and in Spanish, ended up being used on the one hand, to express a relationship of deep friendship between two women in the sense of confident, and on the other, to express a more pejorative sense of blabbermouth or gossip, a stereotypical characteristic of women.
The use of Makoumé as an insult to the homosexual man, could then come from the supposed closeness of him to the groups of women, being thus called by society with the same name they give to women. Or simply because it is assumed that a homosexual man behaves like a woman or assumes her role, something that for example we see reflected in a saying of Martinique:
“Adan an komin pani dé mè, si ni dé mè ni an makoumè”
(in a community there are not two mothers, if there were, it is because there is a Makoumé)
Regardless of what the meaning might be, it is clear that this is one of the many examples in which feminization is synonymous with insult.
Variations: Macoumé, Makoumère, Makoumè.+
Matante is an expression used in Quebec to indicate the homosexual man and the transvestite. The expression is composed of two words Ma and Tante, united to form a noun or an adjective, and whose translation into English is “my aunt.” Its origin, then, is found in the word Tante.+
Mignon as an adjective, and referring to boys, it is translated as cute, pretty or adorable and it obviously seems to refer to characteristics associated with youth. In the 15th century and in the court, the nominalization of the term applies to the so-called “favorites” of the king.
These Mignons, in addition to being the confidants of the king, enjoyed certain privileges and special honors such as being able to dress like the monarch or even sleeping in his same room or even more, in his own bed, being this the highest honor and the greatest demonstration of confidence to which a courtier could aspire at certain times.
In the 16th century and specifically under the reign of Henry III, the customs of the court evolved. The access to the royal bedchambers was not as frequent as before and those privileged who got access earned the envy of others. In this court, and after the tastes of the monarch, the nobility began to doll up, so that jewelry, earrings, curly hair, laces and ruffles became fashionable. The bourgeoisie and the common people, accustomed to a monarchy that until then had promoted a strong manhood and that considered refinement as a symbol of weakness, began to mock the courtly customs. And at the center of this mockery, of course, were the envied Mignons, the king’s favorites.
It must be said, despite the appearances and without entering into the sexual behavior of anyone, that these favorites were far from the stereotype of the beautiful ephebe, of the effeminate and courtly lover that we could think a priori. Not only could they be fierce warriors, but they used to be faithful counselors and fulfilled important missions of representation of the king before some princes and nobles that moved away from the monarch and, mainly, his religious policy.
However, it was precisely religion that was the ultimate responsible for promoting the image of the Mignon favorites as effeminate lovers and sodomites. First, it was the Calvinists, who saw the very image of decadence and sin, associated with Catholics, in the customs of the French court. They were the first to associate the figure of the Mignon with homosexuality. And after them and in the same fashion, came the so-called Catholic League. They reproached/criticized the king and his counselors for their lack of commitment in the defense of Catholicism against the Protestant heresy. They carried out a huge campaign of discrediting and defamation against the King and his court that continued even after his death. They were also responsible for linking in history and up to now, the figure of the Mignon to homosexuality, more specifically to the homosexual lover, and of course, to king Henry III.
Variations: Mignonisme (homosexuality or greek pederasty), Mignonnement (effeminately), Mignard.
Related: Mignon de couchete (lover), Mignon du pape (jesuits).+
Moumoune is a derogatory expression that we could translate as pussy, sissy, wimp, wuss, etc., and that is used to insult homosexual men as well as to attack to any man emphasizing his low masculinity.
it has its origin in its masculine form, Niston, which is not specifically an insult or a synonym of homosexual, but a term of Provencal origin (nistoun, nitoun, mistoun) for boys, infants and kids. In French, its more common use would be this late one. However in slang dictionaries and some contemporary texts we see it used to point to young thugs without experience. In its female form, Nistonne, it is used to name young prostitutes as well as young bottom homosexuals.
For a determined time, the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the term Oscariste was used as a synonym of homosexual man as a result of the judicial process to which the Irish writer Oscar Wilde was subjected and for which he was sentenced to two years of forced labor for committing “indecent acts”.
The term Papaout has nothing to do with Stromae’s song, Papaoutai (where are you, dad?) that reached number one on the music charts of several Francophone countries between 2013 and 2014.
Papaout and the verb Papaouter appear in an early 20th Century Parisian slang dictionary as synonyms for pederast and the practice of pederasty (that is being top homosexual man or sodomizing someone) and, subsequently and to this day, we can find the expression Empapaouter which means to sodomize or fuck the ass of someone in its most literal sense.
The origin of this expression is not clear and, as usual, we can find several explanations. The first and more popular relates to the expression Va te faire voir chez les Papous! (Go to be visited by the Papuans!), that would lead to Va te faire enculer chez les Papous! (Go to the Papuans to get your ass fucked!), a meaning and a phrase construction we also see in the expression Aller faire voir chez (ou par) les Grecs! (Go to be visited by the Greeks!), where the relationship with homosexuality may seem more obvious. But if we can picture ourselves at the time, and taking into account the exotic and “barbaric” customs of some tribes of New Guinea as the Etoros and Sambians, the relationship is much clearer.
The second explanation refers to the etymology and the somewhat older use of the Empaouter and Empapaouter verb, around the year 1900. They were used in a somewhat ambiguous way as synonymous with annoy, get shitty or get dirty. Here the relationship lies in the social vision of homosexual anal intercourse: there is nothing more annoying and dirty than letting your ass be fucked. Pulling the thread of this explanation we find the term Papote, which in ancient French was porridge or mush, and hence, to be covered in porridge or mush, as synonymous to have gotten dirty, muddy or shitty.+
In France, the word pédé comes from pederast and from pédé comes pédale, wich translation into the English language is pedal, which is also part of the bike. As in other pedophile countries, those that link male homosexuality with pedophilia in their most common insults, in France they call pedophiles to gay people. His intention is pejorative. Read our post for the Gay Slang Collection to learn more about this word.
The word Pédé is the short form of the word Pédéraste (pederast), used as a derogatory expression to insult homosexual men. Despite the majority of pederasts being heterosexual men who sexually assault girls in their surroundings, in certain sectors of society this false association of homosexual men and pederasty is promoted in order to justify hate and attacks against gay people by defending of children. Who would not want to protect children?
verlanization, apocopes, deglutination and cinema. Rasdep is one of the many variations of the term pederast that have given rise to dozens of insults and obloquies referring to homosexual men in French, such as pédé, pédale, pedalo, or the Verlan versions (Verlan is a French jargon in which the order of syllables is changed), dallepé, delpé or, as we see below, dep.
Rasdep in particular was an invention of the writer Guy Hocquenghem, but it became popular after the premiere of the documentary Race d’Ep (Lionel Soukaz, 1979), which could be translated as a race of faggots. Qualified as an X film or pedophile cinema, this work is nothing more than a cinematographic reconstruction of the history of gays and lesbians throughout the 20th century. Only thanks to the support of intellectuals such as Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Gilles Châtelet, Gilles Deleuze or Raúl Damonte Botana (Copi), could the documentary be shown, but not before having been purged of its most “scandalous” content.
Not to be confused with Salafist. This dictionary entry works only for those who read Proust since we only find the term in some of his texts. Salaïste would be the equivalent of the term homosexual, which Proust seemed not to like too much. With it, he refers to Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, called Salai, although some authors prefer to relate the term Salaïste with an acquaintance of Proust, Antoine Vacaresco de Sala.
We prefer the first version. For those who do not know, Salai was a painter, disciple, and assistant to Leonardo da Vinci, as well as a model, and gossips say that he was a lover of the Florentine genius. Salai lived for 25 years with Leonardo and was painted several times, either as a man, as a woman or as an angel related to Saint John the Baptist, as seen in the charcoal drawing entitled “The Incarnated Angel”.
Variations: Salaîsme (homosexuality).
See: Salai in Wikipedia++
We could translate it as sissy or also as bottom homosexual. The origin is not at all clear although it seems to be a term that appeared at the end of the 20th century. In general, it is usually related to the term Taf, in its meaning of fear, thus giving it an original meaning, not only of gay but of coward. However, we have found an old expression in the central area of France, close to Paris that perhaps explains the term and its linguistic evolution better. Ratapiole in Vendôme Frech is a despicable and ridiculous person. A simple transformation would transform Ratapiole into Tapiole and hence its variant Tafiole. In this sense, Tafiole would be part of the group of insults for gays that come from negative characteristics of men, associated with gays by the mere fact of being so.
Tante means aunt in the sense of family bond. It is a derogative expression for homosexual men in the same way as the English word Aunt, which has the same meaning, or in the Japan word Onee, which means older sister.
Variations: Tantouze, Tata.+
Tapette is one of the words that has survived the passage of time. It points to adult and bottom homosexuals from the mid-19th century to the present day, being its use very frequent nowadays as an insult. It also means flycatcher palette, mousetrap, slap, in sense of small punch, and it has even been popularly used with women as a synonym for chatterbox.
In fact, this last meaning, that of chatterbox, gossip, etc., could be the origin of the relationship with homosexuals, since being chatty is a stereotyped characteristic associated with women, and we already know that according to stereotypes, homosexual men we are like women and therefore we share characteristics 🙂
However, we can not ignore that in ancient French Tapette comes from the verb Taper, which means hitting, beating and, above all, pushing in the sense of putting, penetrating, plugging, etc. Tapette gave the name to a stick used to push the plugs and covers, both in the context of the barrel maker, and the navy. And this meaning, that of inserting or plugging, has given rise to a whole series of expressions of sexual meaning and also related to prostitution, to the point that popularly Taper means having active sexual relations with another person, both with women and men. Se faire taper, means in this context to get fucked, and Taper someone means fuck him, so Tapette, could perfectly be bottom homosexual, the one who allows be Taper (fucked). Se taper una Tapette would be then, fuck a sissy .. or also hit her.
We, therefore, have two plausible origins of the term that are also complementary, so it is not unreasonable to think that it is precisely this double feminization of the homosexual man, as a gossip and sexual object, that has led to Tapette being one of the few insults that have managed to reach our days “on top form”, opposite to many other words that were lost over the past two centuries.
Read more: Tapette. Gay Dictionary (France).+
coming from the word Taper with the sense of hitting, beating, putting, plugin, etc., it was popularly used to name the drummer in the army. Already at the beginning of the 20th century we find reference to its use to indicate prostitution, so faire le tapin would be equivalent to the English expression “to make the hustle”. Also around those dates we can find the word Tapin in reference to homosexual men, especially young people, dedicated to this activity. Nowadays the use is maintained, both to define homosexual men in general and to refer to prostitutes, men or women. We can also find it as synonymous with work in popular slang.+
The word Tarlouze would translate directly as sissy or faggot. The term is of Quebecois origin and it is used to point out, not only adult homosexual men but also the cowardly or weak. Etymologically it would come from the word Tarla (idiot, useless), which in turn comes from the word Tarlais, This word referred to the thirteenth pig of a litter, since, taking into account that a sow only has 12 nipples, it would end up being the weakest and most useless. From the most rural Quebec to the most modern Paris with the snap of a finger 🙂
Its English translation is yellow soil. It is used in expressions such as Amateurs de terre jaune (lovers of the yellow soil), as synonymous with top homosexual man, or as a synonym of practicing anal intercourse. We also find it in idioms such as Goûter la terre jaune (try the yellow soil), or the oldest we have found Voyage en terre jaune (journey to yellow lands) dating from the beginning of the 20th century. In all cases, the color yellow is related with the feces.
The eschatological references, so common in other languages as Ruskean Reiän Ritari (knight of the brown hole in Finnish) or Mostacero of the Spanish language, are not very frequent in French to name to homosexual men, being this case one of the few expressions that we have found, although it should be noted that this type of explicit images are more frequent when referring to anal intercourse.+
The word Truqueur literally means cheater. Since the end of the 19th century and until the 70s, we have found it as synonymous with a male prostitute and homosexual man, although it is especially related to the world of prostitution, trickery, and crime.
The translation of Uraniste into English is uranist. It is a term of German origin (Urninge) used by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs between 1864 and 1865, a few years before Heinrich himself came up with the most medicalized term of homosexual (1869). It is framed within a complete taxonomic system developed for the understanding of sexual and gender diversity, taking an important step towards overcoming the classic idea that the man attracted to another male had a feminine nature.
The etymological origin is found in mythology, and specifically in Plato, for which the goddess Aphrodite was actually two goddesses, Urania Aphrodite, born of foam after Cronus castrated Uranus, which symbolizes intellectual and celestial love, and Aphrodite Pandemos, the common Aphrodite of all people, born of Zeus and Dione that symbolizes the mere physical love.
Although it is not properly a synonym or a slang word for homosexual man, we include the term because of the peculiarity of its origin. Virer sa cuti means to change political opinion and in the context in which we speak, it means to become homosexual. Although in recent years it is also used to talk about someone who has lost his virginity.
We find a similar expression in Spanish, Cambiar de acera (Change sidewalks), as well as in Italian, Saltare il fosso (jump the moat), the latter more in the sense of taking a transcendental decision or in this context, coming out of the closet.
Returning to the French term, Virer sa cuti has its origin in the obligation imposed by the 50s French government, to vaccinate all children and adolescents against tuberculosis. To check the effectiveness of the immunization each year tuberculin was injected into the patients. If the next day an allergic reaction was observed, or cuti-réaction on the skin, the patient was well immunized. This allergic reaction on the skin, that substantial change of appearance, was named Virer sa cuti and from there, its different meanings spread. First, to the fact of radically changing political ideas, and later to also refer to those men who switch from heterosexuals to homosexuals.
Gay backward. It is a neologism belonging to the French LGBT jargon used to refer to men who, having an affective and erotic inclination for a certain type of man, do not recognize themselves as homosexual or do not want to be recognized or associated with everything that homosexuality or the LGBT community represents, or at least, what it represents for them. That is, a Yag is a gay who does not frequent the gay scene, who loves “real men” because he considers himself a “real man”, who would never go to any pride parade because that does not have to do with him. He considers that the only thing that differentiates him from heterosexual men is his orientation. In short, the Yag would be a classic hetero who only fucks with men. Have you met any of these cruising?
Zamel is a word of Moroccan origin, and as happens in all words of Maghrebi origin referring to homosexual men, they are only used to name the bottom homosexual, and its connotation is derogatory, humiliating and vexatious.
Etymologically, this term seems to come from the word زميل [zamīl], which means colleague, comrade or companion. Unlike in other languages (Spanish, Chinese, French), the distorted word has lost any kind of euphemistic meaning to become an insult, both in the Maghreb and in France.+
The translation of Zebre into English is zebra. References have been found of its use at the end of the 19th century referring to of a low-life, suspicious person. This seems to be in relation to the striped fur of the animal and the old tradition that related striped clothing with prostitutes, Jews, executioners and adulterers, which we have been able to trace until the century 12, long before the classic prison clothes.
Its relation to homosexuals is nevertheless more recent and has to do with the publication in 1969 of the La Peau des zèbres (the skin of the zebras), work by the writer Jean-Louis Bory, of homosexual subject. We cannot rule out in its popularization the fact that zeb, or zob in Arabic and in French slang of Maghrebi origin, means penis.