"gay Quaker" [archaic slang]

papakapp

Senior Member
English - NW US
Found in the 1923 edition of The American Language: A Preliminary Inquiry Into the Development of English by H.L. Mencken

Context:The American Language
2. Words and phrases of distinctly American origin, such as belittle, lengthy, lightning-rod, to darken one's doors, to bark up the wrong tree, to come out a the little end of the horn, blind tiger, cold snap, gay Quaker, gone coon, long sauce, pay dirt, small potatoes, some pumpkins,

I found this list of American neologisms and I had to look up the meaning of about a third of them. Google was able to help me with all but one of them. The term "gay Quaker" seems to have < disappeared> . If anybody is able to tell me what this used to mean, that would really be some pumpkins. I hope I don't come out the little end of the horn with this thread.

Thanks all.

< Edited to remove potentially offensive term. Cagey, moderator >
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    A couple of minutes' googling indicates that the term referred to a Quaker who did not wear plain dress. I think the gay Quaker was also assumed to be less strict in other things such as the matter of spirituous liquors.
     

    papakapp

    Senior Member
    English - NW US
    A couple of minutes' googling indicates that the term referred to a Quaker who did not wear plain dress. I think the gay Quaker was also assumed to be less strict in other things such as the matter of spirituous liquors.

    I think you hit pay dirt. I also found this after I posted

    "An interesting, very specific, and still seen use of gay is among the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers; also heard among some other religious groups such as the Amish), who use gay (or to go gay) to describe somebody who no longer observes their austere way of life. A gay Quaker is worldly and attends the theater;"
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top