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"[A]nd "cock" is not dirty all the time, that's one of those words that's only partly filthy. Cock, if you're talking about the animal, it's perfectly all right! They used to read that to us from The Bible in third grade; and we would laugh... "cock" is in the Bible!

A cross between Accidental Innuendo and Unusual Euphemism. This trope occurs when "language drift" -- natural changes in the common vocabulary -- causes a word or phrase originally intended as wholly innocuous to be potentially taken as startling, confusing or just plain funny in a different time or place. Usually relates to sexual euphemisms, but can also involve other sensitive concepts. Political correctness sometimes comes into play.

Even very slight changes in usage can produce this effect; until recently, a man might speak of his attraction to a "young girl" and mean a twenty something. Nowadays she'd be young, or a girl, but not both. And sometimes the expression still has an innocent meaning that is at least as valid as the naughty one, but now there are just too many people with their minds in the gutter.

Compare with Hilarious in Hindsight, of which this is arguably a Sub-Trope. See also Double Entendre or Intentionally Awkward Title for when this trope is invoked entirely intentionally, Separated by a Common Language for the spatial analogue, and Get Thee to a Nunnery for the reverse process.

Keep in mind that some of these words actually did have their modern meaning at the time they were used, but only within certain sections of the populace. The meaning of the word "gay" began to change as early as 1870 among the criminal classes of New York, where it originally meant "prostitute" (yes, before The Gay Nineties); around 1900 the meaning changed to "homosexual prostitute" and within five years of that to simply "homosexual". This means that in some cases the writers are using the words deliberately in order to get crap past the radar. [1]

Some of these examples result from the euphemism treadmill, whereby terms are repeatedly replaced as the previous word falls into such a state of misuse that it cannot be recovered. The words "idiot", "moron", and "imbecile" started as clinical terms, referring to people with IQ's below 75, 50, and 25, respectively. As these terms fell into common use as insults, they were replaced by a kinder and gentler term: retarded. Nowadays, retarded is considered so virulent that some people want it classified as hate speech. The term used to describe people with life-changing diseases or injuries followed a similar path, from "crippled" to "disabled" to "handicapped" to "physically challenged"; when terms like "handi-capable" and "differently abled" were proposed, it came across as Political Correctness Gone Mad and people generally agreed to stop messing with it.

Words changed meaning less frequently before the advent of radio and television, and when they did change the transformation could be slow (as seen with "gay" above). It took over a hundred years for the primary meaning of the verb "want" to change from "lack" to "desire". Television sped things up: it took only a few weeks in the 70s for the meaning of "boob" to change from "dummy" to "breast" among the general public. Naturally, with the advent of the uncensored Internet words can change meaning almost overnight these days.

Compare Values Dissonance. Get Thee to a Nunnery is the inverse.

Examples of Have a Gay Old Time include:


Advertising

  • This trailer for Gentleman Jim, a 1942 film about the boxer James J. Corbett raves that the title character "made old San Francisco gayer" and "always did his best work in the clinches". After all, he was "the most fabulous figure of old San Francisco" and this is the "gayest picture" of the decade.
    • he's also got "blarney on his lips" and "can lick any man in the world", apparently.
  • The trailer of The Great Race calls the film the gayest comedy in the world.
  • "Weird" has changed its meaning a bit through overuse of the word in advertising media. Originally, it meant something more along the lines of "scary" and "supernatural", and has since been watered down to "sort of generically eccentric". That's why you occasionally see old comics and pulps with names like Weird Tales or Weird Mystery.
  • Some examples never bother to change with the times. The Golden Gaytime is an ice cream bar that's still proudly displayed in Australia. Much beloved of backpacking Brits with Facebook accounts.
    • Parodied in Pulp Sport, where occasionally, the (male) loser to the coin toss had to dress as a promotion girl and walk around offering people the ice cream. "Would you like a Gaytime?"
      • Why parody when the jingle, which is still played in ads, in Australia, today, states "It's so hard to have a Gaytime on your own!"
      • Not to mention the front of the box feature the words "4 chances to have a gay time!"
  • The trailer for Broadway Melody of 1940: "It's BIG as BROADWAY and TWICE AS GAY!"
  • From a 1947 Jester Wools advertisement for colorful wool sweaters: "I've robbed the Rainbow to make you GAY".
  • Circa 1960, Battersea Funfair (which incidentally was an amusement park, not a funfair as such, but we won't go into that) advertised itself as "London's Gay Resort".
  • Gay Boy Boot Polish.
  • There used to be a London coach-hire firm called Gaytime Travel. Presumably, they were perfect for outings.
  • The 1941 musical comedy film All-American Co-Ed was billed as "the season's gayest musical". It probably doesn't help matters that the movie's plot centers around a young man who infiltrates an all-girls school Disguised in Drag.
  • Let's not forget AYDS. "Why take a diet pill, when you can enjoy AYDS."

 Woman 1: Marge, I see you've lost weight. have you been dieting?

Marge: [Smiling] No, I have AYDS!

  • Cockburns is not pronounced the modern way, and is not the kind of product one might think it to be if it were pronounced that way. (What that kind of product might be shall now be left to your imagination, where it may be infinitely worse.)
  • Here's a 1970s spot for a Mego board game called Ball Buster, in which you "try and bust your opponent's balls."
  • A 1908 soap ad asked "Have you a little fairy in your home?"
    • Fairy Soap is still around. One of Proctor & Gamble's most popular international brands. The Little Fairy ad could still be seen in the 1970s.
  • A Kool-Aid commercial from the 1950s has a mother saying, "You can give your youngsters a lot of pleasure with Kool-Aid." Needless to say, "giving someone pleasure" has a very different meaning nowadays...
  • This commercial for a boat brand called Johnson tries to make it sound like the boat is part of the family. That still gets across, but it occurs to one that "Johnson" may have just been a name at the time...
  • One designer posting at Clients From Hell had to deal with a client who wanted a new sign for the restaurant owned by his family. It would proudly bear the slogan his grandfather created back in the day: 'You'll love the taste of our wieners.'
  • As this review points out, Mr. Bucket was poorly advertised.
  • This film from Nestle's anthology promoting wellness features a Filipino student participating in a declamation contest using "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear. Wait until around 5:50, where the adults are coaching him over and over again on the proper way to say "Pussy", or rather, "What a beautiful Pussy you are!" Now would be charged of sexual assault.
  • There's Bigg's Yellow Label Shag from the days when a 'shag' was a tobacco product. Lasts and satisfies, indeed.


Anime & Manga

  • One Piece referred to a certain stream as the "Knock-up Stream" (in those exact words, even in the Japanese version). One Piece: Grand Adventure, which had its dub made by 4Kids, referred to it as the "water spout", but Pirates Carnival called it the Knock-Up Stream.
  • Fairy Tail has a minor example (since Fairies are still common names for fictional flying humanoid girl bug things) having the main characters be part of a guild the same name is fine, but then you get some weirdness in the times when someone calls a member of said guild "a fairy".
  • In the first episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, two other students tell Kyon about Haruhi and say "Her queerness takes a path unlike anything you've seen." Though given some of her behaviour, maybe they didn't just mean to call her weird.
  • In the Scramble For The Throne arc of Kinnikuman, one of the five impostor Kinnikumen is a Mexican wrestler named Mariposa (Butterfly). It's supposed to be a reference to his graceful, high-flying techniques, but in an anime with muscular, scantily-clad men grappling...
  • In general "XXX" in Japanese just means "(blank/variable thing)", but in English speaking language generally means something to do with pornography or moonshine. One work that could suffer from this trope is Xxx HO Li C.
  • The Big O is also a name for The Immodest Orgasm, among other more tame things.
  • Done intentionally in Full Metal Panic, where at one point Tessa (a submarine captain who is posing as a junior high student at the moment) says she's got experience in "the water business", which is Japanese slang for prostitution. Kaname responds with a muttered "That's kind of a poor choice of words..."
  • Panda and the Magic Serpent, Japan's first color feature animated film, has an English dub that sounds quite liberated for the 1950s: "There was a gay festival in the village. Everybody was celebrating."


Comic Books

  • In the English translation of The Red Sea Sharks; Tintin, Haddock and a shot-down (male) Estonian pilot are adrift on a raft in the middle of the Red Sea. They eventually are sighted by some passengers in a cruise ship, after which a woman immediately shouts to the ship's millionaire owner, "Look! Shipwrecks! How madly gay!" The series in general also used "queer" to mean "strange" quite often.
    • Also, in The Broken Ear, a South American artifact is repeatedly called a "fetish," with the word's older meaning of "idol" rather than the modern meaning of a sexual fixation.
  • The Billy Bunter example (under Literature, below), is parodied shamelessly in a story from the old Brain Damage comic where girls are allowed into the world of Boys' School stories and are being very assertive. Poor old Cherry just has time to ejaculate "Hello, hello, hello," cheerily when he's shot dead by a girl with a cry of "He'll not ejaculate cheerily again, I'll wager!"
  • In the 1950s, "boner" was just a slang term for mistake (e.g., the Merkle Boner in baseball). So it didn't raise anyone's eyebrows when a Batman story had the Joker start a crime wave based on "boners." The result was dialogue like "Laugh at my boner, will they? I'll show them! I'll show them how many boners the Joker can make!", "This emphasis on boners has given me an idea for a new adventure in crime!" and "I'm worried about the boner he's readying for you!" The Joker takes inspiration from a picture that "shows a big boner of modern vintage!" And to top it all off, the cover portrays the Joker as a giant totem pole. Not surprisingly, this story became an internet meme. It was also drawn by Dick Sprang.
    • This example also shows up in a contemporary Spider-Man comic--after Spider-Man embarrasses himself by breaking up an apparently villainous act by the Human Torch that turns out to be You Just Ruined the Shot, a bystander comments "I guess anyone can pull a boner".
    • And because it seems there's not a single word on this page that hasn't appeared in at least one vintage Batman comic, here is: Batman's leather thong .
    • In one comic, Batman is carrying Robin out of a hospital, saying "I've got news for you, Robin! Wait till you hear what Gordon has up his sleeve" and Robin is thinking "Batman's doing his best to sound gay. But I can tell his heart isn't in it!"
    • A comic featuring the Joker set at Christmas ended with the Joker back in jail and receiving a mocking, rhyming Christmas card from the Dynamic Duo that ended with, "Accept these greetings gay/From Batman and from Robin."
    • Then there's that issue called "Rainbow Batman", which has Bats fitting a pink batsuit on the cover.
  • In DC Comics, Speedy (Green Arrow's Ward) once points out "Y'see, my straight friends and I no longer had anything in common." He means "Y'see, my non-drug-taking friends and I no longer had anything in common." The sentence can be converted to modern vernacular, though, if you tack "-edge" onto the end of "straight"; maybe future printings will take advantage of this. His name didn't escape many people, either.
  • Played for laughs in a Cable & Deadpool issue:

 Deadpool: My name is Wilson. Wade Wilson. I'm a dick. A private dick. A DETECTIVE! Never mind...

  • In 1942, Gardner Fox and Howard Purcell created a swashbuckling hero who battled evil from beyond the grave. His name? The Gay Ghost. He reappeared in Grant Morrison's Animal Man as a resident of Comic Book Limbo, where he said he didn't want to be brought back because of the redefining of the word "gay." He was later brought back anyway, but as The GRIM Ghost. In his inaugural story, the word "queer" comes up several times, and his ability to possess the bodies of the living is described as "the power to enter men's bodies".
  • "He was makin' love to Minnie!"
  • Superman #7: Superman visits Gay City.
  • An early issue of The Invincible Iron Man includes the gem: "Little did she realize that Tony Stark had to leave the gay party for a most unusual date--with an electric cord!"
  • In Life in Hell gay characters Akbar and Jeff are confronted by an angry hulk who asks them "How come you guys took a perfectly good word - 'gay' - and ruined it for the rest of us?" (This coming from a guy who has clearly never been merry and carefree in his life). Their response is "We call ourselves gay because we are gay." as they push him over, in a merry, carefree way.
  • There's a line in Catman's Who's Who entry about "the cat fetish he acquired in Africa". In proper context, it's easy to tell that the subject is a totem carving of a cat that he picked up while he was in Africa. Outside of that context or to the casual reader is another story.
  • The title character of this comic. Angel Pussy would have a different meaning nowadays.
  • In decades past, "tranny" was British slang for a transistor radio. This makes comics like "Tilly's Magic Tranny" and "Danny's Tranny" funnier than intended.
    • Also, U.S. slang for an automobile transmission, which can make for awkward moments when telling non-gearhead friends about one's "blown tranny".
  • An infamous cover for Betty and Me featured a questionable choice in terminology about how to fend off other suitors. The meaning the average troper would be most familiar with for these terms came about around the same time this comic was made, though, so it probably still counts due to that writer-reader age gap.
  • In a Golden Age Wonder Woman story, Diana calls her boss to ask for the day off because "last night's party was--er--strenuous!" He responds: "Certainly, my dear! You must have had a gay time!"
  • Girls Love was the name of a romance comic put out by DC in the 70's. This cover is especially famous for bringing the unintentional subtext. (Also, note the heavy Fashion Dissonance.)
  • This website includes an entire collection of vintage comics that fit this trope.
  • "Holy Moley! A thug molesting that baby!" To quote Chris Sims meant a different thing back then!
  • There are old Beano comic strips called Little Dead-Eye Dick and Cocky Dick (Cock and Dick both being contemperary british slang for penis) . Also in an old Bash Street Kids strip Smiffy points at a stuffed lion which Danny has stuffed his head into and says "What a big pussy!" (Pussy is slang for vagina, but can be used to describe a coward. It was also a common british term for cat, which is the more likely meaning here...).


Film

  • The meaning of "gay" became an Overly Long Gag in A Very Brady Sequel.
  • Gay Purr-ee is an animated film musical produced by United Productions of America and released by Warner Bros. in 1962. It's about cats in Paris. Nothing about homosexuals in a blender.
  • While The Gay Divorcee has a twist ending, it had nothing to do with homosexuality.
    • It should be noted that the Hays Code did object to the title...when it was called The Gay Divorce because a divorce should never be happy. The censors agreed to a compromise solution that it was possible for a divorcee to be happy. Boy, the Hays office sure managed to avoid pulling a boner with that one!
  • From Disney Animated Canon's The Three Caballeros (try hard not to think about this one in conjunction with Donald Duck not wearing pants ... uh, oops): We're three caballeros, three gay caballeros. They say we are birds of a feather!"
  • Angels with Dirty Faces: "We tried to hook you? What a boner!"
    • 'If anyone ever pulled a boner, you did."
  • Giselle uses the "happy" definition of "gay" in Enchanted's "Happy Working Song." It's a PG-rated Disney movie, and so the discrepancy with the current meaning is never referenced explicitly. This is interesting, because at another point in the movie a joke is made about a character being Mistaken for Gay.
    • This trope is invoked deliberately in this case. It's to show you that Giselle is old fashioned and innocent. Since the movie is an Affectionate Parody of the old Disney movies.
  • Midge's line in Vertigo about "the gay old Bohemian days of gay old San Francisco seems rather on-the-nose these days.
  • Another Hitchcock example can be found in North by Northwest, during the scene where Vandamm meets with Thornhill at the Mount Rushmore cafeteria:

 Vandamm: And now, what little drama are we here for today? I really don't for a moment believe that you've invited me to these gay surroundings to come to a business arrangement.

  • In a deleted scene from Back to The Future (available on the DVD), Marty worries about hitting on his own mother:

 Marty: You know, this is the kind of thing that could screw me up permanently. What if I go back to the future and I end up bein'... gay?

Doc: Why shouldn't you be happy?

    • Doc also thinks that "hitting on" means actual hitting.
  • Try watching High Society without knowing that up until the latter half of the twentieth century, 'making love' to someone could mean having an intimate conversation, such as flirtatious or seductive sweet talk, with no physical contact involved. You can't help but blush when Frank Sinatra sings You're Sensational to Grace Kelly, and uses the line, "Making love is quite an art". And again, after Sinatra and Kelly get drunk and leave the party early... during the dance scene by the pool, he sings, "Mind if I make love to you?"
  • "Making violent love" once referred to nothing more "violent" than an overly emotional courtship, and was often used to describe a man ardently proposing marriage. Hence the scene in It's a Wonderful Life: "He's making violent love to me, mother!"
  • The Marx Brothers:
  • The 1939 Fleischer cartoon Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp had Popeye utter this immortal line to Olive Oyl: "I don't know what to say... I've never made love in Technicolor before!" Definitely not something you could say in a cartoon in this day and age...
  • The term also comes up a few times in the original E.C. Segar strips.
  • In Singin in The Rain, Lina Lamont has trouble adjusting to sound films. She complains of having to speak toward a microphone hidden in the scenery. "Well, I can't make love to a bush!"
  • The Player uses both meanings in the exchange between June and Griffin: "Are you making love to me?" "Yes. I guess I am. I want to make love to you."
  • Parodied in the Time Travel romantic comedy Kate and Leopold regarding the Brooklyn Bridge:

  Leopold: [of the Brooklyn Bridge] Good Lord, it still stands. The world has changed all around it, but Roebling's erection still stands! Ha, ha!

    • A modern time traveler's amusement at the speech in which the Bridge is repeatedly called "an erection" is what causes Leopold to notice him in the first place.
    • It's quite hard not to laugh at Roebling proclaiming proudly, "Behold, rising before you, the greatest erection on the continent... the greatest erection of the age... the greatest erection on the planet!" It doesn't get much better when he continually refers to it as "My great erection!"
  • In the film A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More's daughter says "And you're very gay."
  • Ferris Buellers Day Off: Jeannie responds to an offer of drugs with "I'm straight."
    • Straight is still sometimes used to mean drug-free, admittedly clean is a more common term.
  • Ghostbusters II: Dana Barrett and Peter Venkman are enjoying a date out together when the remainder of the Ghostbusters team bursts into the restaurant rambling about ectoplasm in the city's underground and covered in a viscous, sticky substance (although, thank God, it's purple rather than white...) Venkman's response? "Boys! Boys! You're scaring the straights!" In one country this was straight-up subtitled as (translated back to English) "you're scaring the heterosexuals".
    • It's likely this was done to purposely invoke the double meaning. Venkman is comparing the Ghostbusters as if they were being Camp Gay in front of some straight-laced types.
  • In the 1961 version of West Side Story, the song "I Feel Pretty" has the line "I feel pretty and witty and gay". (This line was never in the stage version, which used 'bright' to rhyme with 'tonight'. The movie version needed lyrics with a rhyme for 'today' because the song was moved to an earlier scene.)
    • Naturally, the "today" version is used in Anger Management when the main character is forced to sing the song in public. His intonation makes it clear that he realizes the double meaning, and that it applies perfectly to how emasculated he feels.
    • Same thing occurs in Analyze That. (complete with mocking: "I've been singing West Side Story songs for three f**kin' days, I'm half a fag already! ")
  • Invoked deliberately for the 1981 comedy Zorro, The Gay Blade, in pretty much every line of dialogue throughout the movie.
  • In Disney's Pinocchio, Honest John sings "Hi-diddley-day, an actor's life is gay!"
    • This one is expecially amusing once you know that the use of the word "gay" to mean "homosexual" originated in theatrical slang well before it migrated to the mainstream vernacular
  • In Blast from the Past, Dave Foley's character tells Brendan Fraser's he's gay. Having been in a bunker for thirty-five years, Brendan thinks he means happy.
  • The title song of Forty Second Street refers to girls from "the fifties" and "the eighties" -- as in the streets of Manhattan. By remarkable coincidence the former's description as "innocent and sweet" and the latter being "sexy" and "indiscreet" matches up too perfectly with stereotypes of The Fifties and The Eighties; the Screen to Stage Adaptation ran on Broadway throughout the latter decade.
  • In the musical Oliver! there is a song called "Who will buy" sporting the line "I'm so high, I swear I could fly." (He's just happy.)
  • Classic Kung Fu movie Dirty Ho. Yeah.
  • In the 1953 Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy The Caddy, Jerry crashes a party where he identifies himself in song as "The Gay Continental".
  • Auntie Mame: "Pipe down, boy. The old man's hung," (meaning "hung over").
  • One Three Stooges short is called Boobs In Arms. No, they do not meet a woman with Gag Boobs.
  • Invoked in the second Ice Age movie, when Manny is telling the kids a story about a young burro:

 Elk Boy: Burro is a demeaning name. Technically it's called a wild ass.

Manny: Fine. The wild ass boy went home to his wild ass mother.

Children: *laughter*

Manny: See, that's why I called it a burro!

  • The Beatles movie Yellow Submarine features a character named Jeremy Hilary Boob, Ph.D. [3]
  • In the 1959 film The Hanging Tree, a trio of amateur prospectors discover a huge deposit of gold beneath a tree stump, a sort of shallow mineral-rich trench or pit known as a...glory hole. Following which event we are treated to the scene of these people running back to town screaming "It's a glory hole!" over and over, and thousands of townsfolk swarming into the streets in a rapturous riot at the news.
    • There was a night club called the Glory Hole in Indianapolis in the 1960s.
  • Your Highness invokes this deliberately after playing up a good bit of Ho Yay between brothers Fabious and Thadeous, when Fabious asks his brother to "Stay here and be gay with father and me!"
  • Isaac Hayes deliberately plays with this in this theme for Shaft, describing him as a "black private dick Who's a sex machine to all the chicks."
  • Disney Animated Canon's Fun and Fancy Free with lines like Jiminy Cricket's "Life is a song - happy, gay" and the lyrics "What a very merry day/All the world is gay."
  • Parodied in the 1980s western spoof Rustlers Rhapsody in a scene where Big Bad Colonel Ticonderoga tells an underling to "throw a faggot on the fire." The underling gets up timidly, asking for clarification, to which Ticonderoga tells him to throw some wood on the fire, the original definition of the term. The underling is noticeably relieved.
  • The Last Airbender: UK audiences were amused by the line "I always knew you were a bender." Here, "bender" means "Male homosexual."
    • Nicely pointed out by Riff Trax: "Do you think she means 'bender' the way British people use it? Google it, folks!"
  • Black Sabbath features Boris Karloff delivering the line "Can't I fondle my own grandson?"
  • Bambi: Let's Sing A Gay Little Spring Song
  • The lost Orson Welles film Too Much Johnson. Tell me you don't think of Biggus Dickus from reading the title.
  • In Friendly Persuasion, a film set among Quakers in the 1860s, characters frequently tell each other how "pleasured" they are. Nowadays, the word "pleased" is used in that particular context. To be "pleasured" is something else altogether.
  • In the 1931 version of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Miriam (Dr Jekyll's fiance) says that she does not believe Dr Jekyll loves her seriously. He responds with "oh, I love you better than that. I love you gayly!"


Literature

  • In Alexander Pope's translation of The Iliad, Venus describes Paris as looking "Not like a warrior parted from the foe / But some gay dancer in the public show."
  • "Intercourse" used to mean "communication between individuals," and still does in many dictionaries. Therefore, in Pilgrims Progress, when in older editions Christian had "intercourse" with various individuals, including the three women at the gate. Likewise, when the Giant of Despair asks, "Who has come to molest me in my castle?", it may not mean what you think it means.
    • In A Christmas Carol, it is said that after changing his ways, Scrooge had no further intercourse with spirits, but lived upon the Total-Abstinence Principle. This was actually a pun (the Total-Abstinence Principle means staying away from "spirits", or alcohol).
    • A somewhat old-fashioned priest who wrote for a Catholic newspaper once innocently likened the sacrament of Communion to "intercourse with God." The firestorm on the letters page was epic.
    • Irene Kampen, returning to college in Due To Lack Of Interest Tomorrow Has Been Cancelled, marvels at how calmly her 1970 classmates take all the explicit sex discussions in psychology and literature class, while back in 1943 "The United States, in her intercourse with foreign nations" would have inspired snickers and blushes.
  • "Booby" meaning an endearingly silly man or a trickster. Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse has "she did in her own heart infinitely prefer boobies to clever men who wrote dissertations".
    • Which becomes more amusing if one knows that Woolf was bisexual.
  • In Heidi, the servants Sebastian and Johann are convinced there's a ghost, which turns out to be a homesick Heidi sleepwalking. In the translation used in the cheap Grossett unabridged version, Clara's father tells them they're "a pair of boobies", i.e., idiots.
  • The Famous Five, Secret Seven and similar books by Enid Blyton and her contemporary imitators would use "queer" to mean "strange" or "weird" a lot, since the central premise is about queer goings-on in the older sense of the word.
  • Blyton's Faraway Tree series features two main characters called Dick and Fanny. They climb up a long hard tree and enter magic worlds.
  • And Then There Were None describes a character as "queer" and "not straight."
  • Taken to extremes as a gag in the Doctor Who novel Human Nature, in which the Doctor's 26th century companion has a conversation with a woman from the 1910s who talks about her "coming-out party", then "cruising" with her mother who's "very gay". After a slight pause, Benny asks if they could start the conversation again, since she thinks they've been talking at cross-purposes. ("coming out" means a débutante being introduced to society; "cruising" means going on a cruise; and "gay" of course means light-hearted and fun.)
  • "The Gay Science" is an outmoded term for the art of poetry. Friedrich Nietzsche actually wrote a poetry compilation with this title.
    • Though that is only a case in English. The German term fröhlich didn't go the same route as gay.
  • In the final pages of The Hobbit, the narrator remarks that everyone in the Shire remembered Bilbo was an elf-friend and therefore thought him a queer fellow.
    • And one of the chapters is called "Queer Lodgings". The lodgings in question are inhabited by a large bearded man who can shapeshift into a bear.
    • Early in The Lord of the Rings, one of the Hobbits is throwing some "faggots" into his fireplace. Much later in the novel, "Frodo got a queer feeling as he threw another faggot on the fire."
    • "At last reluctantly Gandalf himself took a hand. Picking up a faggot, he held it aloft for a moment, and then with a word of command, naur an edraith ammen! he thrust the end of his staff into the midst of it."
    • As the Nine head up the snowy mountain of Caradhras, Aragorn orders that each member of the Fellowship bring with him "a faggot as big as he can carry."
    • Also in The Hobbit, one of the songs the Elves sing as Bilbo and the Dwarves enter Rivendell has the line "The faggots are reeking". (That's got yet another one in it, though not a funny one--"reek" meaning "smoke" rather than "stink".)
    • The double meaning of 'ass' can cause some trouble, too, with all those horribly wrong slash fics out there.

  Pippin (to Merry): My dear ass, your pack is lying by your bed, and you had it on your back when I met you.

    • "Bag end is a queer place, and its folks are even queerer".
    • It doesn't come up much in the book, but how can we forget the swamp Wetwang??
    • This was lampshaded in Bored of the Rings: " 'This is indeed a queer river,' said Bromosel, as the water lapped at his thighs."
    • There are actually two elvish languages that Tolkien created as part of his insanely detailed backstory: Sindarin (the more common one), and Quenya (High Elvish, rarely appears). The lord of Lothlorien is generally known by the Sindarin form of his name, Celeborn (literally "silver-tree"), although the Quenya form shows up in some of the ancillary materials. In Quenya, "silver" is telep- instead of celeb-, and "tree" is orno instead of just orn. Put them together, and you get... Teleporno.
  • Darkness Visible makes much use of this trope to reinforce the gay-subtext. It is set in 1895 but was written in 2010, so when the author has one character say to another "Yes, this will be a much gayer house now you're on the mend", she knows exactly what she's doing...
  • In Anthony Hope's 1894 novel The Prisoner of Zenda, in which an Englishman is obliged to impersonate the King of Ruritania, the protagonist is at one point called upon to hold up the ruse by making love to the King's fiancée. In Simon Hawke's 1984 novel The Zenda Vendetta, in which a time-traveller is obliged to impersonate the Englishman impersonating the King, the corresponding scene has additional dialogue inserted to forestall any misapprehension on the part of the modern reader.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair: where the character of Jill Pole (a school-aged girl) is said to have "made love" to an entire castle full of giants:

 ""Gay," said Puddleglum with a deep sigh. "That's what we've got to be. Gay... I'll be gay. Like this" -- and he assumed a ghastly grin... Though her tongue was never still, you could hardly say she talked. She made love to everyone -- the grooms, the porters, the housemaids, the ladies-in-waiting, and the elderly giant lords whose hunting days were past. She submitted to being kissed and pawed about by any number of giantesses, many of whom seemed sorry for her and called her "a poor little thing" though none of them explained why. Scrubb and Puddleglum both did their best, but girls do that kind of thing better than boys. Even boys do it better than Marsh-wiggles."

  • Pride and Prejudice
    • Where Mr. Bennet says that Wickham (a rare male Vamp) 'simpers and smirks and makes love to us all'.
    • ‎"On entering the drawing-room she found the whole party at loo, and was immediately invited to join them; but suspecting them to be playing high she declined it, ..." In contemporary English, it looks like Elizabeth is saying no to doing drugs in the bathroom (="loo" in British). Subsequent lines make clear that she's actually refusing to play cards because she's worried the stakes will be high.
    • Elizabeth frequently worries about members of her family, particularly her mother and younger sisters, "exposing themselves" in public. Mentally adding "as idiots" or "to ridicule" to the phrase will give more of an indication of Elizabeth's concerns - whatever the social offenses of the various Bennets aside from Jane and Elizabeth, public nudity isn't among them.
  • In Nicholas Nickleby, when Ralph has dinner with his friends and Kate, there is a line like "Poor old Kate, surrounded by gentlemen and wondering why no one's making love to her."
    • Of course, this may not have been innocent in Dickens' time either, given that the speaker - Sir Mulberry - spends the entire conversation sexually harassing Kate. (Some phrasing may belong to this trope, but it's definitely read as sexual harassment in-character, leading to several Heroic BSODs.)
    • A straighter example of this trope is his initial description, which reads like a series of innuendoes in modern slang: "Sir Mulberry Hawk was remarkable for his tact in ruining, by himself and his creatures, young gentlemen of fortune—a genteel and elegant profession, of which he had undoubtedly gained the head. ... his custom being, when he had gained the ascendancy over those he took in hand, rather to keep them down than to give them their own way; and to exercise his vivacity upon them openly, and without reserve. Thus, he made them butts, in a double sense, and while he emptied them with great address, caused them to ring with sundry well-administered taps, for the diversion of society."
    • It would be innocuous when Pip, referring to Herbert, mentions "we went to bed" in Great Expectations had their previous conversation not been a really bromantic one.
  • In The Pickwick Papers, Sam Weller comments that he might marry a rich young woman without a title, "if she made wery fierce love to me". Later, a woman proceeds to "titillate the nose" of another woman, who has just fainted.
  • Little Women contains this doozy:

 Mothers are the best lovers in the world, but I don't mind whispering to Marmee that I'd like to try all kinds. It's very curious, but the more I try to satisfy myself with all sorts of natural affections, the more I seem to want.

    • As Alcott remarked in the beginning of part two: "I can only say with Mrs. March, 'What can you expect when you have four gay girls in the house?'"
  • In Emma by Jane Austen, Mr Elton "violently made love" to Emma in a carriage.
  • In Anne of Green Gables, Anne and her friends form a story-writing club. Anne comments that one girl "puts too much love-making in her stories" and that "too much is worse than too little", while another won't write any because she's too embarrassed to read it aloud.
  • In The Emily Books, another series by L. M. Montgomery, Kindly but childlike Cousin Jimmy comforts the recently orphaned Emily with a nickname, reminiscent of her slightly pointed ears and her love for cats: "Puss" or "pussy."
  • Anyone who's read 18th century literature has snickered at phrases like "he wanted the punishment of a headmaster" or "she wanted her mistress's soft hands". But "want" originally meant "lack" or "need"; the modern meaning of "desire" or "to wish for" didn't arise until the 19th century.
  • An intentional Discworld example comes in Making Money, when Moist and Bent discuss the architecture of the Royal Bank:

 'Isn't the fornication wonderful?'

After quite a lengthy pause, Moist ventured: 'It is?'

'Don't you think so? There's more here than anywhere else in the city, I'm told.'

'Really?' said Moist, looking around nervously. 'Er, do you have to come down here at some special time?'

'Well, in banking hours usually, but we let groups in by appointment.'

'You know,' said Moist, 'I think this conversation has somehow gotten away from me...'

Bent waved vaguely at the ceiling. 'I refer to the wonderful vaulting,' he said. 'The word derives from fornix, meaning "arch".'

'Ah! Yes? Right!' said Moist. 'You know, I wouldn't be surprised if not many people knew that.'

    • Pratchett really likes this joke. At a reading of his that was held in an audience hall converted from a large old church with rather beautiful architecture, including a high, arched ceiling, Pratchett's first words on stepping onto stage were, "Fornication...is why we are all here today."
  • A book of Japanese fairy tales told of a kindly old man "collecting fags for the fire".
  • Clarissa: "Nor did it appear that [Lovelace] was so bad a man as had been represented; wild indeed, but it was at a gay time of life."
  • In William Thackeray's Pendennis, one of the supporting characters is named Harry Foker, supposedly because the person the character was based on was nicknamed "phoca" which is Greek or Latin for porpoise (he was rather obese). That the character is a womanizer suggests a less innocent meaning.
  • What's really a spit-take is when you're reading Sherlock Holmes and come across a line like this: '"Why, Holmes, it can't be!" Watson ejaculated.'
    • The first time this happens in the Sherlock Holmes canon, Holmes has just finished describing to Watson (who he is only just becoming friendly to) how he managed to deduce a man was a sergeant marine just from how he walked. '"Wonderful!" (Watson) ejaculated.' Yes ladies and gentlemen, Holmes is just THAT good.
    • "The Speckled Band" contains the line, "This ejaculation was drawn forth from my companion by ..."
    • In one of the stories from the same book, Watson is asleep when an "ejaculation" wakes him up.
    • Another Sherlock Holmes spit-take moment is found in 'The Speckled Band': Holmes apologises to Watson for 'knocking him up'. At the time, this meant to cause somebody to wake up (by knocking on their bedroom door), and did not have the modern meaning of 'to render pregnant'. Juuuuuust in case the Holmes/Watson relationship needed any more Ho Yay... or Mpreg...
    • It's worth another spit-take when Holmes goes on to explain that Mrs. Hudson has just knocked him up, after having been knocked up herself.
    • An additional Sherlock Holmes example is the use of "toilet," which at the time referred to one's personal grooming, washing, etc. ("...no one can glance at your toilet and attire without seeing that your disturbance dates from the moment of your waking.")
    • From 'The Adventure of the Empty House' (granted, Doyle probably wasn't going for a double meaning here):

  "Ah, Colonel!" said Holmes, arranging his rumpled collar. "`Journeys end in lovers' meetings,' as the old play says. I don't think I have had the pleasure of seeing you since you favoured me with those attentions as I lay on the ledge above the Reichenbach Fall."

    • From 'Shoscombe Old Place', Watson describes Sir Robert Norberton as being:

  "...so far down Queer Street that he may never find his way back again."

  • Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot often ejaculates his words as well. "Poirot ejaculated:" is sometimes on an entirely separate paragraph from both the speech itself and the preceding paragraph, so it really stands out and makes it unbelievably hard not to laugh out loud.
  • Bertie Wooster would often 'ejaculate', and then wonder if that was the word he wanted.
    • Don't forget his friend Stephanie Byng, nicknamed not Steffy, but Stiffy.
  • "Ejaculate" for "exclaim" is used completely straight in the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series.
    • The very first Hardy Boys book in the very first series was and is also rather educational: it tells us how "passing the queers" at that time was slang for fobbing off counterfeit money (hence the expression still used in some places today, "queer as a three dollar bill").
  • This kind of usage is parodied to hell and back in Mabel Maney's Nancy Clue/Hardly Boys trilogy--all the main characters will use the word "gay" to mean "happy", but they're all in same-sex relationships.
  • The authors of the disaster novel farce Earthdoom! would've been well aware of what they were doing when they made a race of slimeball aliens that communicated by encoding messages in emitted liquid, then used "ejaculate" as one of the tags for their speech.
  • "Ejaculate" for "exclaim" does appear in some modern books...such as Harry Potter, in which Ron and Slughorn both ejaculate their dialogue occasionally. To be fair, Ron is a teenage boy. We're not sure about Slughorn.
    • A stranger version is the Fat Lady's use of "Abstinence" as a password for Gryffindor Tower in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The meaning is the same, but the Fat Lady uses its obsolete definition as a reference to giving up alcohol (having just drunk her way through some very old mead), as opposed to the common usage of abstaining from sex.
  • A particularly unfortunate example from H. G. Wells The War of the Worlds: "His landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing-gown and shawl; her husband followed ejaculating."
  • Often occurs in the Billy Bunter books, as in "'Hello, hello, hello,' ejaculated Bob Cherry cheerfully."
    • A less common example that might have modern readers looking up etymology is when the school's lone American student proclaims himself and other boys to be 'cute' [4].
  • Parodied in lists of Appropriate Alternatives to "said", as in '"You're supposed to sprinkle sand on the roads when it's icy, you fool!" he gritted.' '"Oh my god I was so frightened when the geyser erupted," she gushed.' And obviously, '"I'm having an orgasm!" he ejaculated.'
  • Parodied in Robert Anton Wilson's Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy- the final line in a scene full of Tom Swifties- "'I'm coming', he ejaculated."
  • And, as if it wasn't awkward enough to read Moby Dick and find the word "sperm" each five pages or so, there's also a strange example of this instance:

  "(...)muttered the old man, limping away; with which sage ejaculation he went to his hammock".

    • Not to mention that "moby" means "large, immense, or impressive," making the title even funnier.
    • Don't forget this passage: "Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say, - Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness."
  • The Moby-Dick "queer" example seems to have been lost, and it's too good to stay that way:

  Well, well, well! Stubb knows him best of all, and Stubb always says he's queer; says nothing but that one sufficient little word queer; he's queer, says Stubb; he's queer - queer, queer; and keeps dinning it into Mr. Starbuck all the time - queer, Sir - queer, queer, very queer. And here's his leg! Yes, now that I think of it, here's his bedfellow!

  • It also was used in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Disturbingly, it's usually non-human characters who say it.
  • Not only do the characters in Stanley G. Weinbaum's science fiction classic A Martian Odyssey ejaculate frequently, one of them is named Putz. Weinbaum most likely did this intentionally.
  • In the original (Bram Stoker) Dracula, "Dr. Van Helsing rushed into the room, ejaculating furiously".
  • The Prince and the Pauper is full of "ejaculations" and "orgies."
  • In the 1930s Dr. Seuss illustrated The Pocket Book of Boners, a humorous collection of mistakes found in textbooks. As the Huffington Post put it, "If someone tells you they have a 'pocket book of boners,' you should probably turn and walk in the other direction. No wait, run."
  • This Emily Dickinson poem:

 A Dying Tiger -- moaned for Drink --

I hunted all the Sand --

I caught the Dripping of a Rock

And bore it in my Hand --

His Mighty Balls -- in death were thick --

But searching -- I could see

A Vision on the Retina

Of Water -- and of me --

    • To clarify, Ms. Dickinson was referring to eyeballs.
  • The word "thong" used to mean just a strip of leather and the word is used in some translations of The Bible, when John the Baptist comments that he will not be fit even to untie the thongs of Jesus' sandals.
  • Also from The Bible:
"And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
    • Nick Cave named an album "Kicking Against the Pricks" in honour of the verse, and it got banned from a lot of stores for the name alone. If they'd listened to it, they'd see it was a fairly innocuous collection of country and gospel covers.
    • The use of that word to represent the naughty bits was around back then (Shakespeare used it in such a manner, in fact). Of course, the translators of the KJV were more frumpy fuddy-duddies than ol' Bill, one would expect.
    • Acts 21:30 -- "The whole city was aroused"
  • It was still possible to use 'pussy' as an innocent descriptive term in English literature until fairly late into the twentieth century. It gets bandied about a lot in Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books -- leading to at least one retroactively hilarious sequence in which a group of police officials appreciatively discuss 'old pussies' in general before one mentions 'his particular pussy', Miss Marple. From the context, the original idea was clearly 'deceptively cozy'.
    • As the Barrison Sisters show, pussy meant all kinds of risqué things by the end of the 19th century.
    • Christie had lots of gay young people running around, and many people strike the main characters as queer.
    • Her book Death on the Nile might just be the king of this trope. Not only does a character hope that "this girl might be enough to turn the man straight", but one couple talks about "making whoopie" in a restaurant (from context, it seems to mean "living luxuriously") and one character expresses incredulity that "that dumb girl totes a dick?!" -- "dick" meaning Private Detective, obviously.
    • Murder on the Links makes a valiant attempt at the title, though, when a girl whom he later marries asks Hastings if he is in town with his boss. She phrases it thusly.

 Are you down with the M.P., then? Doing the gay boy on the beach?

  • The characters in Damon Runyon's stories refer to their "straight monikers" -- their real names, as opposed to nicknames like Harry the Horse.
  • There was a series of kids' mystery books called Something Queer Is Going On. Titles like that certainly wouldn't work today. The original books, perhaps understandably, seem to have fallen out of print. Author Elizabeth Levy has re-branded the newer titles in the series as The Fletcher Mysteries.
  • There is a Biggles book called Biggles Takes It Rough. It is about a hard journey across rough country, of course.
    • There's Biggles Gets His Men too. Biggles and his friends also ejaculate frequently.
  • This occurs in the Neil Gaiman short story Changes, where "change" is used to describe switching one's sex through the use of a drug originally intended as a cure for cancer. "Changing" eventually becomes seen as a sort of fetish. Schoolchildren giggle whenever they read "change" in one of their textbooks. The word itself eventually becomes so taboo that a man is prosecuted for wearing a t-shirt which reads "I'm a changed man!" Gaiman even mentions that spare change is eventually referred to as "coinage" to avoid problems.
  • "Dick", besides being a nickname for guys named "Richard", was also until fairly recently a slang term for "detective". Besides making jarring appearances in a lot of classic adult mystery literature, it appears quite frequently in the Hardy Boys and Three Investigators series of children's novels. This is why, in the case of the latter, one will now more often encounter the word "gumshoe" instead. Nothing that can help Richard, though.
    • The hero of the original novel The Blue Lagoon was called Dick. Needless to say, he was renamed Michael in the 1949 film and Richard in the 1980 film.
  • Apuleius' The Golden Ass is about a donkey, of course. It's probably best referred to as Metamorphoses, though.
  • In Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, the heroine's name is Fanny Price. 'Fanny' once a very common name in the UK -- short for 'Frances' -- but more familiar to modern audiences as a slang term for a certain woman's body part. In the USA, it means "a rear end," regardless of gender, and is innocent enough that a hip bag is referred to as a fanny pack with no double entendre intended. In the UK and Australia... well, it refers to the other side of a woman, shall we say. And is therefore much, much more adult.
    • Fanny gets "knocked up" in that book, and "intercourse" passes between the inhabitants of Mansfield and the Parsonage.
    • Henry Crawford also asks himself, of Fanny, "Is she queer?" In context, he's wondering why she isn't attracted to him.
    • The same applies, even more so, to the classic Fanny Hill, which is almost appropriate, given what the story's about.
    • Fanny Craddock was a famous television chef in Britain during the fifties and sixties. In one programme she taught viewers how to make ring doughnuts. After the programme, the announcer spoke a line still played on clip-shows to this day: 'I hope all your doughnuts come out like Fanny's.'
  • Thomas of Celano's Life of Saint Francis includes the following memorable description: 'Indeed, he was always occupied with Jesus; Jesus he bore in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in the rest of his members.'
  • In the context of explaining why divorce is a bad thing, G. K. Chesterton was writing about how kids are better off if they are sure their parents aren't just waiting until the kids grow up so that the parents can get a divorce, and one of his examples was this:

 "Children...cannot keep the feeling [of living in a secure home] for more than ten minutes, if there is an assumption...that Mrs. Brown may go off the moment that Miss Brown has "come out."

    • Referring to the daughter's "coming out," in the sense of being a debutante who comes of age.
  • The meaning of the word "hypochondria" has changed dramatically over the centuries. It derives from the word "hypochondrium", a Greek medical term for the abdomen, and was first used to describe pain arising from malarial infection of the liver and spleen. Centuries later the meaning had changed to "depression", which is how it was used all the way from the time of Davenant until that of Trollope. It was only in mid to late Victorian times that the word reached its current (and hotly debated) meaning.
    • In the mid-20th century, "hypochondria" was very frequently used in Real Life as a euphemism for other more serious mental illnesses, such as borderline personality disorder and hebephrenia. Contemporary literature mimicked this increase in use of the word without seemingly realizing it was being used euphemistically, creating far more literal hypochondriacs in fiction than were ever diagnosed in real life.
  • 'Orgy', believe it or not, technically describes any gross indulgence, but usage in any context besides the sexual is very rare nowadays. Thus, when the Kurt Vonnegut book Slapstick or Lonesome No More has a scene in which the main character and his twin sister have what the author calls an "orgy"...Yeah.
    • "Orgy" is also used in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when talking about what they will do when they are thieves, to which Huck Finn asks, "What are those?" Then Tom says, "Beats me! But we gotta have 'em!" Ugh.
    • There are a group of fairies coming home from an orgy in Peter Pan.

 Tom Lehrer: "When correctly viewed,/Everything is lewd./(I could tell you things about Peter Pan,/And the Wizard of Oz, there's a dirty old man!)"

    • The word comes up a fair amount in H.P. Lovecraft as well. The orgies in question are generally left vague, but mostly don't sound sexual, and given the sort of lifeforms one encounters in Lovecraft's stories, we can really only hope.
  • Early on in A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man the narrator describes a washbasin with "cocks with printing on it" which is "queer".
  • Some candles were once made of spermaceti, a wax found in the head cavities of sperm whales, thusly these candles were known as sperm candles and the wax known as sperm. But modern readers familiar only with sperm's more common definition may double-take when reading passages from older works mentioning such candles, like this line from Bram Stoker's Dracula: "Holding the candle so that he could read the coffin plates, and so holding it that the sperm dropped in white patches which congealed as they touched the metal..."
    • Elsewhere in the same book, "Van Helsing rushed into the room, ejaculating furiously".
  • Also in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: "In addition, Benjamin discovered that he was becoming more and more attracted by the gay side of life." and "his thirst for gaiety grew stronger" and "there were gay hours in the cheerful room".
  • The Onion: Our Dumb Century has an entire page of this describing the 1906 San Francisco fire: "EARTH-QUAKE MARKS LEAST GAY DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY -- 'Queen city on the Pacific' lies in ruins. Garment District still flaming."
  • Ray Bradbury is not immune to this, either. In the short horror story "The Skeleton", a Face Full of Alien Wingwong is described as being like "a hot-water douche". As in, a cleansing flood of liquid rushing into an orifice. Okay, That Came Out Wrong.
    • It helps if you remember that "douche" simply means "shower" in French, which used to be a common language for English speakers to borrow from. (The Spanish cognate, by the way, is ducha.) Hey, at least Bradbury didn't write "golden douche."
  • Welkin Weasels, a children's book series, runs into this. The story is about the weasels trying to find humans to repair the sea walls before the land of Welkin floods. The sea walls are persistently referred to as "dykes". Perfectly correct, but not used with that particular meaning very much these days ...
    • There's also the food fight, described as a "delightful orgy" (one participant has "cream dripping from his whiskers", which is just bog-standard Accidental Innuendo -- and the only ones not taking part are the three priests, natch). And when Falshed is trapped by the Grand Inquisitor, he becomes worried that "these three fiends were going to have their way with him".
  • This happens about 3 times in the course of two pages in the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein.

 Victor Frankenstein: We returned to our college on Sunday afternoon: the peasants were dancing, and every one we met appeared to be gay

...

Alphonse Frankenstein: What would be your surprise, my son, when you expect a happy and gay welcome, to behold, on the contrary, tears and wretchedness?

...

Alphonse Frankenstein: William is dead!-that sweet child, whose smiles delighted and warmed my heart, who was so gentle, yet so gay!

  • In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Sissy calls all her husbands and lovers "John" for her convenience, and her family often refers to them as "Sissy's John" or "The John". No, she's not that kind of woman, as she'd be the first to insist. (However, for a book written in 1943, the meaning of "love-making" in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is much like the contemporary euphemism: it's described as sometimes involving a couch and likely to result in a child.
    • "John" also had its modern meaning in 1943. The choice of the word was almost certainly deliberate, not just on the part of the writer but also on the part of the characters.
      • Which might be why, in the film version, Sissy calls all her men "Bill".
  • Kenneth Roberts' 1934 novel Captain Caution concludes with the captain's French friend pinching another man's cheek and cheerfully announcing that "I am gay again!"
  • Gunby Hadath's magnificent 1913 novel "Schoolboy Grit". Wherein a scholarship boy is forced to admit that, being from a non-public school background he knows nothing of fagging (and is much derided for his ignorance), a teacher "kept crumpling the letters up and sending them to the wastepaper basket, accompanied by many grunts, groans and ejaculations" and, most perplexingly, a character is left far more 'light hearted and gay' after being 'smacked in the googlies' with a towel by another boy. (It's a cricketing term.)
  • The handbook for Alcoholics Anonymous, written in 1939, has many instances of this trope. For example:

 One dismal afternoon he paced a hotel lobby wondering how his bill was to be paid. At one end of the room stood a glass covered directory of local churches. Down the lobby a door opened into an attractive bar. He could see the gay crowd inside. In there he would find companionship and release. Unless he took some drinks, he might not have the courage to scrape an acquaintance and he would have a lonely weekend.

  • Modern writer Patrick O'Brian has too much fun with this trope in a scene in the eighth book of his Aubrey-Maturin series, The Ionian Mission, set in pre-Victorian times, where Jack's former protegé Captain Babbington insist the women on his ship are all Lesbians, whom they rescued from pirates and are escorting to their home of Lesbos. Seriously, their conversation has to be read to be believed.
  • The Great Gatsby is very, very guilty of this. It only increases the Ho Yay.
    • "a promise that she had done gay exciting things just a while since and that there were gay exciting things hovering in the next hour"
    • Jordan tells the story of how the young Daisy had her little love affair with Gatsby and then missed her chance to say goodbye to him when he was shipped out. After that, she apparently gave up going out with soldiers, and "[b]y the next autumn she was gay again, gay as ever."
  • New readers of Dune may find it a bit odd to see the night sky described as "a faggot of luminous gray".
  • First Amongst SEQUELS, the fifth of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, this is a significant plot point, after the literature parliament tries to get certain books banned.
  • In the Temeraire series, men of close acquaintance address each other as "my dear" (Particularly, Laurence to Temeraire and to his fellow captain, Granby). This was, apparently, a common form of address at the time the story is set (The Napoleonic Wars). To modern eyes, it's simply a signpost that says "Ho Yay Ahead".
    • At one point Granby apologizes for "acting the scrub." He was not being an annoying gamer or, in another modern sense, hanging out the passenger's side of his best friend's ride, trying to holler at you.
  • Poul Anderson's Time Travel novel There Will Be Time has a funny variant of this when the hero's new friend from the far future mentions that one of the primary amusements of her culture is "joking." Later, when the two are alone together for several months, he discovers "joking" is a way to pass time with someone you really like....
  • The Curlytops At Silver Lake has a subplot centered around a woman having her "queer" box stolen (queer of course used in the sense of "unusual", as it's from Japan and has a secret compartment with a special hidden latch).
  • The Secret Garden, typically for its time, has plenty of uses of "queer" ("Am I queer?" "Yes, very."), but also, due to Colin's perceived disability, does it with "straight" as well, such as when he stands up for the first time: '"He's as straight as I am!" cried Dickon. "He's as straight as any lad i' Yorkshire!"' (If this is good news, it may be dampened slightly a couple of paragraphs later when Ben Weatherstaff observes, "There's not a knob on thee.")

 Her mother had been a great beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people.

  • Like many examples in this list, A Song of Ice and Fire uses "queer" in its original sense. Unlike many examples in this list, it started doing so in 1996.
  • A novel written in the 20s about the Napoleonic wars had the line "the flaming city had a queer gayness to it".
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's day, a 'diddler' was roughly synonymous with 'swindler.' His essay on the characteristics of a diddler makes for, um, interesting reading to modern eyes: http://books.eserver.org/fiction/poe/diddling.html
    • "What constitutes the essence, the nare, the principle of diddling is, in fact, peculiar to the class of creatures that wear coats and pantaloons. A crow thieves; a fox cheats; a weasel outwits; a man diddles. To diddle is his destiny. "Man was made to mourn," says the poet. But not so:; he was made to diddle. This is his aim; his object- his end. And for this reason when a man's diddled we say he's "done.""
    • Your true diddler winds up all with a grin. But this nobody sees but himself. He grins when his daily work is done; when his allotted labors are accomplished; at night in his own closet, and altogether for his own private entertainment. He goes home. He locks his door. He divests himself of his clothes. He puts out his candle. He gets into bed. He places his head upon the pillow. All this done, and your diddler grins. This is no hypothesis. It is a matter of course. I reason a priori, and a diddle would be no diddle without a grin.
    • A very simple diddle, indeed, is this. The captain of a ship, which is about to sail, is presented by an official looking person with an unusually moderate bill of city charges. Glad to get off so easily, and confused by a hundred duties pressing upon him all at once, he discharges the claim forthwith.
  • Isaac Asimov uses "diddle" in a similar way in his Black Widowers stories, meaning to trick someone.
  • Nero Wolfe (Numerous references to 'dicks', ie. detectives [and as a fairly common male nickname of the time]. This becomes especially awkward when 'female dicks' Dol Bonner and Sally Corbett are introduced.)
    • Another example is in the short story "Method Three For Murder", where one suspect laments the death of the victim by saying "She was so gay. She was a gay person."
    • And a third example, recalling the Poe one above, is when Wolfe declares "I will not be diddled!" in the episode/short story "Before I Die."
    • And many were the occasions when Archie "got erect" rather than just standing up.
  • Although Daisy Miller contains plenty of intentional Double Entendres, some more are added thanks to this trope:

 "He wondered what were the regular conditions and limitations of one's intercourse with a pretty American flirt. It presently became apparent that he was on the way to learn."

  • One of the main characters of Swallows and Amazons is a young girl named "Able-Seaman Titty". Nobody even considers the possibility that this might be funny.
    • Actually it gets worse, in later books a character called Richard who is universally called Dick is added. Add to this "Roger the Cabin boy", the main characters boat being the Swallow, most characters being described as Seamen (Salty Seaman is I believe used at one point), the word tackle crops up a lot as well which has connotations, Captain Flint's cannon being described as his mighty weapon and the fact that bird watching is a major part of the series with its attending Tits and Boobies has lead to a lot of unintended mirth.
      • Titty or Tiddy was once a nickname for Elizabeth, and occasionally for Margaret.
  • In The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole the homosexual Nigel forms a "Gay Club" at school. When Principal Scruton tries to get it shut down seeing as he doesn't want the gym used for "immoral purposes", Nigel plays dumb and claims the club is for people to have a joyous and good time. Scruton then informs Nigel that the definition of "gay" has changed but remains silent when Nigel asks him what it is.
  • Appears intentionally in Stephen King's The Dark Tower, where Eddie Dean, who came from 1987 meets Odetta Holmes, who is from 1964. Odetta objects to being referred as "black", because in her time, the neutral word was "Negro".
    • And "black" was an insult, worse than motherfucker.
  • The term gay is used frequently in Atlas Shrugged, including Hank Rearden proclaiming that “he liked to see people being gay, even if he didn't understand this kind of enjoyment”. This kind of enjoyment referred to the party his wife was throwing.
    • Dagny Taggart finds Francisco d'Anconia “sitting on the floor playing with his marbles”.
    • Many events and items (like Galt's motor) are queer.
    • Oh and Orren Boyle's personal spin doctor is overly fond of children.
  • The father in The Great Brain series edits the town paper, The Adenville Weekly Advocate. Tom wants to be a journalist and is eager to work at The Advocate.
  • Inverted in The Court Of The Air, where the inhabitants of Middlesteel use the term "flash mob" to refer to street gangs. This term was actually used in real-world 19th century Tasmania, in reference to a female subculture, but there's little doubt that author Stephen Hunt was playing up the in-verse usage's incongruity with modern definition.
  • Not quite an example, but pretty close: in Redwall, the vermin use the term "mate" to mean either friend or spouse, depending on context. Note the distinct lack of any female vermin in the first few books, and ... well. Also, the latest book is entitled The Sable Quean, spelling intentional. Mr Jacques gave the definition of "quean" in interviews as "wicked woman", but inspection of the dictionary proves it actually means "prostitute". He can't possibly NOT know this, right?
    • He might be Getting Crap Past the Radar, but the writer is also showing his work quite cleverly here. "Prostitute" was originally an obfuscating Tudor euphemism for "wicked woman". "Wicked woman" was originally itself a euphemism (for "whore", of course) but by the 1500s it had become as tarnished as the original.
    • There's a line about making daisy chains in the first book.
  • In Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue, one character is named "Yiffer". While a "yiffer" can be defined as a stout pole used in scaffolding, anyone the least bit familiar with the Furry Fandom is likely to see a completely different meaning.
  • In H.P. Lovecraft's The Haunter of the Dark, the hero "seemed to feel a constant tugging at his will". I can't be the only one who finds this unutterably hilarious.
    • Another example from Lovecraft, but less humorous, in The Whisper in Darkness. Azathoth, one of the great Old Ones, is described as "the monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space." Nuclear refers to central (as in nucleus), and not the modern connotation of nuclear energy or atomic bombs. Latter authors took advantage of this, and made Azathoth the patron of radiation.
  • The '60s Czech translations of the Swallows and Amazons books casually use the word "šukat" to mean "to walk about" (the literal meaning is - I believe - "to push along"). Nowadays, the word means "to fuck".
  • This one isn't dirty so much as it's just odd, but Anna Karenina's description of one of the characters "making his toilet" may count.
    • The outdatedness of that expression was taken advantage of in an early Stephen Fry monologue, where in the midst of a Hurricane of Puns the narrator "made [his] toilet, sat on it and then went down to breakfast."
    • And in Anna Karenina, page 87 in my printing, Anna says something or other with a "gay twinkle". This after a paragraph on the preceding page about how Kitty is in love with Anna in the way girls sometimes are with older women.
    • Better yet, there's also this gem: "as if tears were the necessary lubricant without which mutual intercourse between the two sisters could not work successfully."
  • Some English translations of chapter 17 of Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio have this. One describes the title character as "running and rushing about the room as gay and as lively as a young cock." Another has "him run and jump around the room gay as a bird on wing."
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, while a recent book, is deliberately written with a somewhat antiquated style and word choice. While it avoids some of the more obvious instances, it tends to use the word "intimacy" where nowadays we would probably say "friendship", introducing Ho and Lesyay implications into apparently platonic relationships. It also uses the older meaning of "toilet".
  • Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls features this little gem:

 Golz was gay and he had wanted him to be gay too before he left, but he hadn't been.

 All the best ones, when you thought it over, were gay. It was much better to be gay and it was a sign of something too. It was like having immortality while you were still alive. That was a complicated one. There were not many of them left though. No, there were not many of the gay ones left. There were very damned few of them left. And if you keep on thinking like that, my boy, you won't be left either. Turn off the thinking now, old timer, old comrade. You're a bridge-blower now. Not a thinker. Man, I'm hungry, he thought. I hope Pablo eats well.

 They had proceeded thus gropingly two or three miles further when on a sudden Clare became conscious of some vast erection close in his front, rising sheer from the grass. They had almost struck themselves against it.

 With what bitterness did he behold his whole erection of glory and of poetry crumble away bit by bit!

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is fond of using the phrase "get up and hump yourself". Considering how it's common School Study Media, the classroom snickering is inevitable.
  • The Railway Series has the word gay used in its original context a number of times. The series did begin in the mid-1940s after all. The word was left in each time for the later televised adaptation, with no reference to the modern meaning at all. Just casually used in its original context.
  • Karl R. Popper, in The Open Society and Its Enemies, at one point arrives at the conclusion that, "Thus we can say that we owe reason, like our language, to intercourse with other men."
  • Not really an example, but hard to explain otherwise: John Irving's very long novel A Prayer for Owen Meany (the book on which the movie Simon Birch was rather loosely based) has the narrator, Johnny, relating many anecdotes unrelated to the main plot, such as how a girl named Hester he and his friends used to play with grew up to become a shock rocker named "Hester the Molester." (Johnny's a fan of hers, and has some of her albums.) Hester obviously meant "molester" in the current, kinky sense instead of simply "one who bothers people" - but considering that she and Johnny were born in the 1940s, grew up during The Fifties, and came of age in The Sixties, it's unclear how she would have picked up on the modern definition.
    • It's a pun on the old Hustler comic "Chester the Molester", in which the title character molests both women and prepubescent girls. The comic debuted in 1975 but the phrase might be earlier.
  • The 1933 novel Better Angel is about a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality -- which if anything makes it funnier when you have things like Kurt's mother being grateful that her son is "straight" (i.e. without physical deformity) and Kurt, as a child, imagining himself in a "gay pirate outfit". ("Queer" as "strange" also shows up a lot, but given that the word is occasionally used in its more modern sense, those double entendres may be intentional.)
  • In one of the 2010 reissues of The Baby Sitters Club series, the term "thongs" was changed to "flip-flops" in order to curb some odd imagery for those who associate thongs with something else.
  • In Up The Down Staircase, Sylvia is warned never to give a lesson on "lie and lay" and not to teach the poem that begins "There is no frigate like a book". Sylvia says if she teaches that poem she'll substitute the word "steamship".
  • In Tom Sawyer Huckleberry Finn calls Tom's idea of playing robbers as "gay, mighty gay". Nowadays it'll have the exact opposite meaning.
  • Richard Matheson has a short story, SRL AD in which a personal ad describes the person as "tender and gay altogether." The person who replies describes himself as "gay altogether," as well. Matheson adds in a note after the story, "the word 'gay' did not mean what it does today."
  • In Roald Dahl's version of "Cinderella" (included in the picture book Revolting Rhymes), Prince Charming exclaims "Who's this dirty slut? Off with her nut! Off with her nut!" after decapitating the ugly sisters - by "dirty slut" he meant simply that Cinderella was slobbish, not sexually promiscuous. A number of online reviewers condemn the book as unsuitable for children because of this one word, despite apparently being fine with the beheadings occuring immediately beforehand.
  • In Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr Henshaw, the main character sees a sign that reads "$50 fine for molesting butterflies" and wonders why anyone would want to molest a butterfly. It's pretty obvious the word isn't being used in the sense readers are most familiar with, but the character's thoughts could prove otherwise...
  • In George Orwell's exposé of the bad living conditions of the unemployed in 1930's Britain, The Road to Wigan Pier, he mentions that people are getting accustomed to not objecting to their bad situation. Of course, the phrase he uses is "ceasing to kick against the pricks." (See also the Bible reference on this page where he got it from.)
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, the main character, who is on his honeymoon, describes himself as "gay and confused." While it obviously means that he's happy and a bit shocked at his own luck, to a modern ear it sounds like he's not sure how he feels because he just realized he's homosexual.
  • In the American Girl mystery "The Crystal Ball", a paragraph mentions "the gay crowds". On one hand, the story takes place in the 1910's, when "gay" did mean "joyful". On the other hand, the story was published in 2012- and today's average tween and young teen reading this book aimed for her demographic will likely be more familiar with a different meaning for the word "gay".
  • How They Found Pussy. (It's about a cat.)
  • Similarly, in Five Children and It, Jane's nickname is "Pussy" (and Cyril assigns her the Nom De Guerre "Wild Cat" at one point).


Live Action TV

  • Pushing Daisies manages to get away with making Chuck use 'queer' to mean 'strange'. The narrator uses 'gay to mean 'happy' at one point, too, and that time, it is somewhat giggle-inducing. (The show is set in a Fifties Retro Universe.)
    • And the narrator, for extra defiance, uses the word in its modern conception in "The Legend of Merle McQuoddy".
  • There's a scene in an episode of I Love Lucy in which the expression "make love" is used in this way; Lucy asks an actor to act out a "love scene" in which he will "make love" to her in order to make Ricky Ricardo jealous.
  • A similar scene exists in The Addams Family, in which Gomez is flirting with a woman as part of a ruse. Later, Morticia (who saw the whole thing) describes him as "making love" to the woman.
  • Arrested Development had repeated jokes about this when Buster was preparing to go off to war.
  • Parodied in an Allo Allo episode where Colonel Strohm and Lieutenant Gruber are dreading the thought of participating in the Invasion of Britain:

 Strohm: What about Manchester? They eat faggots for breakfast!

Gruber: Such a barbaric place...

  • Let's not forget the character on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains who was named Boner. No wonder you never see that show in reruns...
    • It should be noted that by the time that was on, only among TV writers was the older definition still prevalent.
    • When new producers took over Growing Pains midway through the first season, one of their first acts was to give Boner the name "Richard Stabone" to provide a non-obscene explanation for his nickname.
      • It makes you wonder why they chose that name, considering the most common nickname for Richard is "Dick..."
  • In The Honeymooners, Norton, trying to get Ralph to do the Hucklebuck to prove to Alice that he can be young, urges him to "get in the groove and be gay!"
  • This is one of the jokes that occurs Once an Episode on Are You Being Served: Mrs Slocombe uses "pussy" to refer exclusively to a cat -- specifically, her own. Everybody else, on the other hand, has the modern meaning firmly in mind when it's said, leading to TMI-type thoughts.
    • David Baddiel did a routine about Grace and Favour (the short-lived 1990s AYBS revival), and how younger people, who only think that "pussy" means "vagina", wouldn't understand the innuendo, and would think that the show was "incredibly rude".; (ringing up the BBC to complain); "Excuse me, but Molly Sugden has just appeared on my TV and said that her gash is dripping!"
  • In the 1966 Doctor Who story The Macra Terror, the Doctor's reaction to what we later learn is a mind-controlled Stepford Smiler colony is "Well this is gay!" The best part is his tone could just be stretched to mean gay as the high school synonym for "lame". Not to mention the more obvious meaning.
    • And in the 1967 serial Evil of the Daleks, we hear the line "You seem to know all the queer (peculiar) people."
  • Parodied wonderfully in this A Bit of Fry and Laurie sketch.
  • In Angel, Wesley uses "dicks" to describe the members of Angel Investigations while riding in Angel's car. Gunn finds this offensive, and lampshades television production standards by warning Wesley not to say the word again.
    • Another example from Angel: Illyria states in one episode that she and Wesley are "no longer having intercourse." She then clarifies a moment later that he has stopped speaking to her (intercourse meaning "conversation").
  • The anthropological term "fetish", for a totemic object associated with a spirit being, also means a sexual fixation (usually for something weird or disgusting). Usually it's obvious which meaning is in use, as fictional depictions of the first meaning usually have real magical powers. However, in "False Prophets", an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Chakotay hears that the people who enter a temple always wear effigies of ears, and notes that "it must be some kind of fetish." (Considering that they're Ferengi ears, maybe it is.)
  • The Movie of On the Buses has a theme song that features the amusing lyric "There's always gay life on the buses/make sure you leave your bird at home". Just to add to the bizarreness, one of the main characters is perving at a woman right at the moment when this lyric is sung.
  • Ray Kowalski from Due South uses the older, 'strange, odd' meaning of 'queer' a few times.
  • Not surprisingly, Three's Company played with this, given the role Jack was playing with the landlords. A most memorable time was, when asked directly in a court case, "Are you gay?" Jack replies, "Well, sometimes, but I can be sad sometimes too."
  • Occurs several times (often intentional) in Dads Army, usually courtesy of Lance Corporal Jones.

  "And that was the noise he ejaculated while he was being flogged, sir!"

  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", Bones refers to the tribbles as "bisexual" - meaning that they're hermaphroditic and can reproduce independently. Though this term can still be used this way by biologists, to most modern viewers it sounds as if he's speculating on the tribbles' sexual preference. This is confusing, to say the least.
    • It's quite amusing to see the first promo for Star Trek, which proclaims it to be an "adult space adventure". They were trying to explain that Star Trek was going to be more a serious show than silly, family-oriented Lost in Space, but using "adult" in that context now sounds like a euphemism for something else.
  • Used deliberately in Blackadder a few times. Sometimes it's apparently just to sound archaic ("The streets have never been so gay!"), but at least once it is deliberately used as a double entendre:

  Prince George: Married? I can't get married! I'm a gay bachelor, Blackadder!

    • It's particularly prevalent in the final series, especially with George's lines 'Ready to give the Hun a taste of British spunk' etc.
    • Blackadder Goes Forth has some great fun with old-fashioned phrases which now sound, well, a bit pervy. A terrific moment in "General Hospital" is when Stephen Fry's General Melchett informs Blackadder that after his undercover work, "Captain Darling will pump you thoroughly in the debriefing room!" (to "pump" someone at the time meaning to question them for information); Blackadder (whose mentality was always strangely modern) replies with, "Not while I have my strength, he won't."
      • Then there's the episode where Melchett falls in love with George in drag. Blackadder is highly amused when he says George "has more spunk than most women."
      • These are certainly not ony deliberate but period-accurate double entendres. Spunk's meaning was already what it is well before the Great War.
  • The song "Lick a Lolly" from The Electric Company probably didn't raise too many eyebrows in the '70s, but modern viewers tend to hear a... less child-friendly subtext. The fact that the performers are adults in childlike costume doesn't help.

 "I know a boy, his name is Billy! And Billy loves to lick on a great big lolly!"

"And Solly says "Oh golly!" when he sees a lolly!"

  • In Cosmos, Carl Sagan speculates about the type of life that may exist in the clouds of Jupiter. He calls them "sinkers and floaters."
  • Used in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. During an interview with a baseball player, another reporter refers to Les Nesman as a "Queer fellow" (meaning "odd"). The baseball player misunderstands, and gets Les banned from the locker room. Les then attempts to kill himself, by jumping off the building, until someone explains the error to the baseball player.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 once featured a 1950s short film called "Out of This World," in which an angel and a devil fight over a bread deliveryman's soul. The devil was named Red, and the angel was named... Whitey. And yes, Crow promptly greeted her with "Hey, WHITEY!!!". Ironic that most of Hollywood at the time were racist, Mary-Sue esque whites.
    • Another '50s short ("Using Your Voice", shown during the Earth vs. the Flying Saucer episode) has an elderly narrator explaining the importance of enunciating clearly. He tells the viewers that they "must be pleasing" and at one point advises them to "use plenty of lip and tongue action", leading to nervous laughter from Servo.
  • All Creatures Great and Small, being about vets and taking place in the late 1930s, regularly uses "bitch" to refer to actual female dogs.
  • There are people out there who snicker at the title Leave It to Beaver.
    • On top of that, one episode had the Beav and Wally roped into taking care of a little girl - she promptly starts yelling that she wants "Mary Jane!" which was her term for 'the bathroom'. Got a lot of laughs from an audience of college kids.
  • The Dragnet episode "The LSD Story" featured Joe Friday saying the line, "Marijuana is the flame, heroin is the fuse, LSD is the bomb." Three decades or so, a techno song was released entitled "LSD is the Bomb", including that line- but with a whole new slant.
  • In The Brady Bunch episode "The Big Sprain", Sam the butcher wants to take Alice to a dance known as the "Meat Cutters Ball". Umm, OK. In that same episode, Alice says she has the "gayest nose in town" when Sam brings her a nosegay.
  • Parodied in Grace Under Fire: Grace's ex-husband Jimmy found out at this father's funeral that he was a closeted homosexual. He asks Grace if he could "turn out to be gay" as well and she messes with him by asking him a series of questions about music taste and the like until she says "Yup, you're as gay as they were in 1890!". To which Jimmy replies "THAT gay?"
  • There's a bootleg DVD of Kamen Rider Ryuki that's become famous among the American fan community for having the line, "Don't molest the lawyer!" in its English subtitles. While technically correct (a group of men are pushing said lawyer around and threatening him), the line is still gets giggles.[5]
  • The episode "Wordplay" of The Twilight Zone has an interesting twist on this trope, where within a day all words suddenly change their meaning, leaving the main character with a garbled vocabulary, invoking this trope with every word.
  • Used deliberately in the Season 6 live episode of Thirty Rock: "I'm Dr. Harold Spaceman. I'm known in the industry as the gay doctor because I always have a smile on my face - because I have so many homosexual lovers."


Music

  • The Secret Origin version of the song "Hate Everyone" by Say Anything.

  'I hate: my best friend from third grade who tricked me into saying I was gay in front of the whole class because I- I just thought it meant happy.'

  • As suggested by the title, innocuous uses of the term "gay", as in "We'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home". The trope name itself comes from the last line of The Flintstones theme song.
    • An instance that rings especially odd to modern ears occurs in a hit song of the 1930s, "Girls Were Made To Love And Kiss"; the singer, defending his womanizing ways, asks "Shall I be blamed if God has made me gay?" (Given that the word was already Jazz slang for both "swinger" and "homosexual" by that time, this may have been an intentional Double Entendre, an in-joke that most listeners would miss.)
    • In Jerry Vale's "Pretend You Don't See Her", the singer advises himself to "smile and pretend to be gay" when the unrequited object of his affections approaches.
    • The title song from Tom Waits' musical The Black Rider uses the original meaning of "gay", probably in order to sound old-timey.
    • In the classic ballad "The Cowboy's Lament" (perhaps better known as "The Streets of Laredo") the dying cowboy sings "Once in the saddle I used to go dashing, once in the saddle I used to go gay." Perhaps that's why he got shot.
    • The Platters' "The Great Pretender" is "happy and gay like a clown".
    • A more contemporary example is Nirvana's "All Apologies": "What else should I say/everyone is gay".
    • "No Milk Today" by Hermans Hermits.

  No milk today, it wasn't always so. The company was gay, we'd turn night into day

    • Dean Martin's song That's Amore has the lyrics "Tippy-tippy-tay/Like a gay tarantella". Lampshaded by Orson Welles at Martin's Celebrity Roast.

  "Like a gay tarantella? Apparently, Dean has a 'side Dean' we know nothing about."

  • Nowadays, it's hard enough during Christmas to find time to Deck The Halls with boughs of holly; some of us will never manage "don we now our gay apparel."
    • Lampshaded in one of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's Christmas specials, where one of the puppets sings the line, suddenly realizes what he has said, and giggles about it.
    • In Family Guy, Brian was given a Christmas sweater by Lois. It was rather effeminate, and had the caption "HO! HO! HO!" on it. When she insisted that he wear it, using this line, he said, "doesn't get much gayer than this".
    • The Monkees somehow got away with this in their Christmas Episode...resulting in a massive Crowning Moment of Funny. See for yourself.
    • Somehow made it through in the family film Franklin's Magic Christmas. Nelvana was aiming to use the traditional unaltered lyrics of the featured songs, including going the whole nine yards with the complete 5-stanza version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
    • They dig the hole deeper after "Troll the ancient yuletide carol".
    • Speaking of gay Christmases, ABC Family cut the song "Give Your Heart a Try" from the Rankin/Bass animated version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas because of the use of the word "gay" in the lyrics.
    • "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" implores the listener to "make the Yuletide gay". That the song was introduced by future gay icon Judy Garland (in Meet Me in St Louis) merely adds to the dynamic.
    • Going still further back into Christmas past, the Boar's Head Carol has the title delicacy "bedeck'd with a gay garland".
    • "It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year" extols "gay happy meetings when friends come to call." Many cover versions change "gay" to "great".
  • "The child that is born on the Sabbath Day is blithe and bonny, good and gay."
  • "When Irish eyes are smiling / All the world seems bright and gay..."
  • There is a 15th century French song called "Baises moy," which means "kiss me" in Middle French. A similar Modern French expression has a much more obscene meaning.
  • An old ballad starts out with the line, "Lord Thomas he was a gay gentleman..." It immediately goes on to describe Lord Thomas's entirely heterosexual courtship with one Fair Ellender, which dilutes the awkwardness to a large extent.
  • Some younger tropers assume that the song "The Lady is a Tramp" is an example of this, because the "tramp" once only meant "hobo", not "promiscuous woman". But the slang meaning was already very well-known when the song was written in 1937, and the song deliberately uses that meaning - the singer is comparing herself to a prostitute because she doesn't follow every little arcane rule of contemporary New York society etiquette. It's very much "I don't use the right fork; guess that makes me a dumb slut, huh?" with a touch of plausible deniability - the writers could claim they meant "hobo" if any Moral Guardians were upset. Incidentally, although it's often thought of as a Frank Sinatra song, it was originally sung in the musical Babes in Arms by the female character in question. Sinatra changed the lyrics and, possibly deliberately, the meaning. Oddly enough, Disney named a movie on a dog duo who goes through an Italy-esque town doing wacky shenanigans.
    • Another Frank Sinatra example, Around The World from the movie "Around The World in 80 days". Actually, the movie's version lacked lyrics of any kind, but the versions performed has the words "It might have been in Country Down/Or in New York, or Gay Paree/Or even London town..."
  • You might suspect that "I'm Coming Out", performed by Diana Ross, would be an example of this. Nope. The songwriters were well aware of the other meaning of the phrase, although the song itself does not make any other references to homosexuality, even though it is associated with being a gay male.
  • Gary Puckett and the Union Gap did a song back in The Sixties called "Young Girl" in which he is using it toward what the Japanese refer to as Lolicon and what Americans would call Jail Bait.
  • In the "The Villain Sucks" Song of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (as sung by the fantastic late Thurl Ravenscroft), one of the lines in the song's last verse reads as follows:

  You're a crooked jerky jockey, and you drive a crooked horse

    • Clearly, he's talking about dried beef.
  • There's an old folk song: "Ruben Ruben I've been thinking, What a queer world it would be If the men were all transported Far beyond the northern sea. Rachel Rachel I've been thinking what a gay world it would be If the girls were all transported Far beyond the northern sea." Well, yes, if they sent all the men or all the women away, it would be a queer/gay world.
  • "Flowers On The Wall" (1966) by the Statler Brothers featured bleak undercurrent as well as lyrics that demanded revision in subsequent cover versions.

 Last night I dressed in tails, pretended I was on the town

As long as I can dream it's hard to slow this swinger down

  • In "The Pub With No Beer" by Slim Dusty, "The cook's acting queer".
  • Due to perceived Unfortunate Implications, Debussy's Children's Corner No. 6 is often referred to as "The Cakewalk" instead of its proper title, "The Golliwoggs' Cakewalk". Either that, or the second word is misspelled "golliwogs'" without the double final G. This is an example of this trope because Florence Kate Upton's Golliwogg, which Debussy was specifically referencing, was a heroic figure, the Harry Potter of his day; it wasn't until Enid Blyton got hold of the character type that it became the racist stereotype it is today (and acquired the present spelling).
  • From the World War One era song "It's a Long Way to Tipperary":
  • Jumpin' Gene Simmons' 1964 novelty hit "Haunted House" includes the line, "I had a hunk o' meat in my hand".
  • The George Formby 1940s hit "Under the Blasted Oak" has the singer and his girlfriend "searching for some LSD" under the tree in question. At the time, "LSD" was British slang for "pounds, shillings and pence", i.e., money.
    • George Formby was well known for Getting Crap Past the Radar, so the only way we're certain this isn't deliberate is that LSD was only discovered in 1943 and wasn't widely known until years later.
    • The 1931 British novelty song "Ali Baba's Camel" says that the title character was "out for what we all want: lots of LSD!" When the Bonzo Dog Band covered it in 1969, they left the line in, obviously knowing the audience would find the newer double meaning amusing. And to tie it in even more with the trope name, the song was written by Noel Gay.
    • This was probably 100% deliberate considering it was recorded in 1971, but the song "Lake Shore Drive" by Alliotta Haynes Jeremiah has the line "Just zippin' on by on LSD," meaning, yup, Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Many older Chicagoans still use the initialism to refer to the road.
  • "Let me tell you 'bout a place, Somewhere up-a New York way, Where the people are so gay..." Somehow, we doubt Sam Cooke was referring to Greenwich Village or Fire Island with that line from "Twistin' the Night Away."
    • It continues in a later verse: "Here's a fella in blue jeans, dancin' with a older queen who's dolled up in-a diamond rings..."
  • "Somebody Nobody Loves", written by Seymour Miller and best known in Ella Fitzgerald's interpretation, contains the lines, "I've prayed on bended knee/For that certain gay prince charmin'/Who was meant for me."
  • The last line of the traditional London Bridge Is Falling Down was And a gay lady, not My fair lady. This replacement appears to have happened just out of superior rhythm or similar, however, as the change long predates the modern meaning of the word.
  • From Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)":

 To think that only yesterday I was cheerful bright and gay

  • "Under the Boardwalk", written in the 60s, has the singer saying that he and his baby will be "making love under the boardwalk". Presumably this means the sweet-talking kind and not the kind that would lead to getting sand in uncomfortable places. (Modern covers sometimes say "we'll be fallin' in love" instead.)
  • An amusing inversion by a modern songwriter: Derek Webb's song "Freddie, Please" contains the line "Freddie, can't you see, brother, you're the one who's queer?" Most people in 2009 would take "queer" to mean "homosexual", but Webb intentionally uses it to mean "abnormal". The song is about Fred Phelps, a notoriously homophobic pastor.
  • For once not sexual, but plain weird: There's a German children's song about two Star-Crossed Lovers. The song ends with them running away, and the next sentence is "and the house ran after them". In old(er) German, this meant "all the people who were living in the house", or possibly "the family", but to today's kids, this has to create the strange mental picture of a running house. (And in fact, this was used in one kindergarten play.)
  • Ladies and gentlemen, The Gaylords!
  • Nowadays, Bach's Air on the G String conjures up some interesting images for some.
  • The Hollies, in the early 1960s, recorded a song called "Keep Off That Friend Of Mine" the chorus of which includes the lines "Now she's turned her head away/She's lost her smile/She's not so gay". Nowadays, the last line is often parodied "...I think she's gay".
  • Vancouver-based Spirit of the West (compare them with Great Big Sea) used this phrase verbatim in the song "The Crawl" (a song about a pub crawl): "Well we planned to Have a Gay Old Time, the cash we did not spare..."
  • Inversion: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers' "I'm Straight", about the advantages of not doing drugs.
    • As does Ian Dury's "I Want To Be Straight", although it's deliberate. It even uses "bent" to mean "addicted to drugs". Ian was bisexual, thus he deliberately phrased this song in such a way that could be about either homosexuality or drug use.
  • The song "To Know Him/Her Is To Love Him/Her" by Phil Spector includes the casual line "I'll make love to her/him", then obviously having the older meaning.
  • The Shaggs' song "Why Do I Feel" is even more hilarious with this in mind:

 "Sometimes I worry over nothing at all

Sometimes I think life's just a ball

When life changes and turns the other way

I try to think of something gay"

  • George Jones's song "A Rose from the Bride's Bouquet" takes on rather a different context when looked at from this light:

 I went to a wedding one bright summer day

The bride was a beauty and the people were gay

Alone in a corner I stood till the end

For the girl was my sweetheart and the boy my best friend

 "Yig now is coming! Yig now is here!"

"Yig now he makes things impossibly queer..."

  • The classic standard "Am I Blue?" includes the line, Was I gay, until today...
  • Johnny Cash's Jackson, about a bickering couple who want to break up and intend to go to the town of Jackson to celebrate their new-found unattachment, contains a verse where Cash promises to "snowball Jackson". Presumably he means that he intends to roll right over it, like a snowball rolling down a hill gathering snow and speed as it goes, rather than the modern, squicky sexual connotation.
    • "Snowball" could also mean to con everybody, play them for suckers, like a snow job.
  • Clive Richarson's composition "Gay Activity". Used, among other things, in Ren and Stimpy.
  • The original lyrics of the Kentucky State Song (My Old Kentucky Home) did a double whammy, by beginning:

 The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home

Tis summer, the darkies are gay

 It even went on to sing about "The young folks roll on the little cabin floor".

The lyric has since been changed from "darkies" to "people", but gay is still official.

  • The Kinks' "A Well-Respected Man" mentions that the title character "likes his fags the best". They're referring to cigarettes, of course.
    • The title character from "David Watts", meanwhile, is "so gay and fancy-free". But since the next verse says that "all the girls...try their best but they can't succeed" with David, it's probably a deliberate Double Entendre.
  • People are still doing analyses of Lee Hazlewood's "Some Velvet Morning", heavy on the implications of "straight" and "gate".
  • "Kentucky Gambler" by Merle Haggard (written by Dolly Parton): "Into the gay casino in Nevada's town of Reno."
  • MF DOOM's "Batty Boyz" plays with this trope by using clips from the 50's and 60's in its introduction.

 Sharpen up your spirit of adventure: the fabulous gay way!

"Now don't get gay with me!" "Gay, sir, I'm far from gay."

  • An indirect example could be the classic jazz/folk tune "I'm Just Wild About Harry" (a broadway tune that was momorably covered by the groundbreaking but largely forgotten jazz musician Al Jolson). At the time, the song was just seen as a comically-exaggerated but sentimental gesture of friendship. Today, the following lyrics would suggest something a little more... sensual (at least when sung by a male):

 The heavenly blisses of his kisses fill me with ecstasy.

He's sweet just like chocolate candy and just like honey from the bee.

  She's big, big. She's bad, bad. My woodie!


Mythology

  • The Rape of Persephone does not involve sex with an unwilling partner. At the time, "rape" referred to kidnapping or assault. Same with the Rape of the Sabine Women, or The Rape of the Lock, which does not involve keyholes.
    • It's a minor example, as assault can mean modern rape, but thinking about it... would Super Mario Bros. be called The Rape of Princess Peach back then.
    • Not necessarily sex with an unwilling partner; the word "rape" often had the sexual connotation of "kidnapping for sex, out of strong desire". Did Hades abduct Persephone just so he could play checkers with her? Similarly, Pope used the term "rape of the lock" to literally mean "theft of a lock of hair", but "rape" had meant "unwilling sex" for 300 years at that point, and the hair-stealing is explicitly a sex/love thing.
    • A similar wordplay is present in ancient Hebrew, so there is some argument about the exact meaning of Dinah's Rape.
      • Apparently she ended up having a baby. Case solved.
  • In order to impregnate Danae, Zeus took the form of a "shower of gold". In America, the phrase "golden shower" refers to a sex act involving urination.
    • The Thunder god certainly got around. Nowhere in the "Rape of Ganymede" does it claim that the young man was ever unhappy with the arrangement. In fact, in "payment" his father got a herd of divine horses, and Ganymede eternal youth, a soft make-work government job ("Cupbearer"), and retirement as a constellation. Oh, and Zeus might have been an eagle at the time.
  • The father of the Titans was named Uranus Is Showing (the planet was named after him). Sometimes averted by calling him "Ouranos" or something similar.
  • The fable of the little Dutch boy who saved Holland by "sticking his finger in the dyke". "Dyke" is, of course, one of many slang terms for a lesbian (particularly used in the phrase "bull dyke" to describe a lesbian woman who looks like a man). And the less said about the "sticking his finger" part, the better...


Newspaper Comics

  • The June 3, 1983 strip of Garfield is either this or Getting Crap Past the Radar, depending on whether Jim Davis was aware of the Double Entendre or not.
  • There's a The Far Side cartoon of a bunch of scientists watching a movie featuring a caveman skeleton and the title "IT CAME FROM OLDUVAI". The caption: "Anthro horror films." This obviously refers to anthropologists, but now it would indicate something very different.
  • 'Making love' shows up at times in Krazy Kat, in what is probably the original sweet-talk sense, as opposed to the down-and-dirty one.
    • Not to mention a strip in which Ignatz's ancestor, in love with Krazy's ancestor (a queen), is apprehended by her guards: "How dare he get gay with our sainted 'Kat'!" Since Krazy is not consistently female, well...
  • Many early Broons and Oor Wullie comics had characters using the word "Gey", a now-obsolete eastern Scottish word for "Very". It wasn't unusual for characters to remark: "That's gey queer" when something odd was up! Another strip in particular had Horace refer to Gran'paw as a "Deif auld faggot", "faggot" at the time in Scotland meaning something tired and/or useless.


Professional Wrestling

  • Back in the days when pro wrestling was switching from competitive to choreographed, "hooker" was used to describe wrestlers who had legitimate wrestling backgrounds. The term is still used, although hookers have become relatively rare in wrestling these days.
  • A rather humorous one is the word 'superstar' which has been used in wrestling for years. Outside of wrestling, however, the word is used almost exclusively by gay men.
  • There's the wrestling move 'small package', which may have been named with the double entendre in mind or maybe it wasn't.
  • Monday night RAW originally meant uncooked, but now it means... Hmm....


Radio

  • In one Bob and Ray episode -- circa about 1959 -- book reviewer Webley Webster discusses the 'coming-out party' he's throwing at the Waldorf-Astoria. When Bob tells him that those are only 'for young ladies', Webley is insistent: "No, no, I come out fr'm behind the curtain, an' then I'm officially out!" It sure doesn't help that this character is portrayed generally as an affected dandy.
    • Then there's the incident from a 1949 show in which a station staffer walks in with some junk he wants the guys to try and sell for him on-air. "Ooh, a vibrator!" Ray exclaims with what can only be described as childlike eagerness. "I'd love to have one!" Turns out it's a barbershop gadget for foaming up shaving cream, but for a second there...
  • In Hancock's Half Hour, in 'A Sunday Afternoon At Home', Tony once contrasts Sunday afternoon in continental Europe, where 'everything's gay' compared to Britain 'not over here'. All he meant was that in the 1950s Europeans had a wider variety of activities available to them in the weekend than British people did...
  • Lucille Ball's old radio show, My Favorite Husband, was full of this:

 Bob LeMond: "Yes, it's the gay family comedy series starring Lucille Ball with Richard Denning and is brought to you by the Jell-O family of Red-Letter Desserts."

    • One episode featured Liz and her friend hiring a flirtatious French tutor. Her friend's husband described the first encounter like so:

 "As soon as he entered the door, he began making violent love to my wife."

  • In the 9/5/45 episode of the Superman radio series, during a story arc in which Superman teamed up with Batman and Robin, Jimmy is responding to Lois' invitation to cover the opening of a new amusement park - he's meeting Dick Grayson at the Y for a swim, after which they're having dinner. But, he tells her, she can join them as their guest. To which Lois says, "You get Dick and meet me downstairs in fifteen minutes..."
    • Just to make sure that the more obscure of the two Double Entendres doesn't go over your head, "dining at the Y" is a modern euphemism for cunnilingus, "the Y" of course being...
    • This is entirely aside from the fact that, post - Village People, two young men spending an evening together swimming and dining at the Y carries rather different connotations.
    • Also, Dick Grayson.
  • Discussed in an episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Humph mentions his time at Eton, and Barry innocently asks "Were you a fag?" Humph replied "I was Lord Carrington's fag. I mentioned this to an interviewer...American television, coast-to-coast...and the late Liberace was on the phone before I'd left the studio."

Sports

  • In 2008, baseball historians commemorated the 100th anniversary of "Merkle's Boner". To everyone's relief, there was no sponsorship tie-in from Viagra or Cialis.
    • Well, of course not. They warn the user to see a doctor after four hours; 100 years is just taking it too damn far.
  • The University of South Carolina's sports teams were originally called the Fighting Gamecocks, after South Carolina war hero Thomas "the Fighting Gamecock" Sumter. Over time, though, it's been shortened officially to "Gamecocks," and unofficially to fans and detractors alike as "Cocks." However, they appear to have wholly embraced the Double Entendre, as you can get shirts for the swimming/dive team that say "Wet Cocks Go Deeper," and see old ladies with bumper stickers saying "You Can't Beat Our Cocks!"
  • Americans, if you ever go to Australia, don't say you "root" for a sports team. Down here, "root" is slang for having sex. We barrack for sports teams.
  • Humorous writer Michael Green once accompanied an English rugby tour behind the Iron curtain, into communist Romania. He notes that the senior English dignitary accompanying the visitors realized he would have to make a speech at an official reception that night. Not knowing any Romanian, he he reasoned that if he copied out the wording that appeared on the toilet doors, he would at least know the Romanian for Ladies and Gentlemen. He used these words to open his speech, and to his pleased surprise, it earned him a standing ovation from his hosts. He asked a Romanian rugby official afterwards, saying he was so pleased his speech had been received well, and the local smiled gravely. "Yes, Sir Henry. It does make you sit up straight when you are addressed as Urinals and Water Closets!

Tabletop Games

Happens with frequency in grandfathered intra-system game terminology, especially now that several systems are more than three decades old.

  • The card game Illuminati uses Straight to mean normal, everyday, ordinary, i.e. the opposite of Weird[6]. In the contemporary era, we speak of mainstream and fringe subcultures. In the CCG version, Illuminati: New World Order, this is kept, but the rulebook and a couple of cards crack a few jokes at it.
    • Also, the internet memes with the X-Files make it all the more weirder.
  • The term Ego was less strongly associated with an overdeveloped sense of self when it became a stat in Champions. The numerical characteristic (or CHA) has more to do with willpower than either pride or the Freudian combined conscience of the id and superego.
  • The classic board game Cape Horn is absolutely full of this. As Mike Mozart pointed out, it's a game where you play as a crew of seamen collecting windcocks to sail around Cape Horn [7] and get to San Francisco. Prepare for a lot of Heh, Heh, You Said "X" if you try to play it with someone particularly immature.


Theater

  • In the musical version of The Producers, Flamboyant Gay stage director Roger De Bris sings a number called "Keep It Gay." Fifty years ago, a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical had a song with the same title which was not using it as a Double Entendre.
    • Earlier in the play, in "The King Of Old Broadway", Bialystock lampshades this trope when he sings, "There was a time when I was young and gay--(Beat)--but straight."
  • Another Rodgers and Hammerstein example occurs in Allegro, from 1947. The title song, reflecting on the hectic tenor of modern life: "Hysterically frantic, we're stubbornly romantic, and doggedly determined to be gay."
  • As late as 1961, there could be a Broadway musical titled The Gay Life without reference to homosexuality. A few later productions retitled it The High Life. (Which still has something wrong...)
  • Who could forget the classic line from The Importance of Being Earnest: "The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain"? (Being Oscar Wilde, it could have been dirtier than we think.)
  • Brigadoon has this dialogue after Tommy sings "The Heather of the Hill":

 Fiona: Ye see. Ye can say nice things when ye want to.

Tommy: Yes! It almost sounded like I was making love to you, didn't it?

Fiona: Oh! There's a difference between makin' love an' jus' bein' sentimental because ye're tired.

  • A Gilbert and Sullivan line: "Be firm, be firm, my pecker" in Trial By Jury. ("Pecker" means nose, as in the old saying "keep your pecker up," but modern audiences will assume something different.)
    • Patience has the title character, the only one of the maidens not to be swooning over Bunthorne, declare her ignorance of love: "For I am blithe and I am gay." Less reverential productions have the other maidens echo her line with a sneer: "For she is blithe and gay."
    • The Mikado contains the line "Dicky-bird, why do you sit / Singing willow, tit-willow, tit-willow?" Milked for all its worth on The Muppet Show and Frasier.
  • J.B. Priestley's Dangerous Corner requires Stanton to say "It's very rum ..." (antiquated word for odd, strange, peculiar) while pouring drinks.
    • This wordplay was also referenced in a Winnie the Pooh story, with the bear coming across a rum barrel and wondering what was so rum about it.
  • Many an English class have found amusement in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, when Caesar's wife is interrupted by someone calling out (to the general crowd, of course) "Peace, ho! Caesar Speaks!" Ho, of course, being a general "hey!" sort of word back in Elizabethan times...
    • If they found that funny, Antony and Cleopatra must've been hilarious, given at one point Cleopatra faints and calls out "Help me hence, ho!" ... where she's saying so to her female servants.
    • There's an even worse one in Romeo and Juliet. "Give me my longsword, ho!" Doubly bad with the innuendo of the "longsword".
    • In Baz Luhrmann's modernized version, William Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, the drag-queen Mercutio leeringly asks if Tybalt can spare him "a word and a blow." He also makes "the blind bow-boy's [i.e. Cupid's] butt-shaft [i.e. arrow]" sound as if it has something to do with bums.
    • In Henry V Act V Scene II, Princess Katharine explains in French to her fiancé that good girls don't kiss before marriage. At that point in time, the verb "baiser" meant "to kiss". It doesn't anymore.
      • Considering that entire scene is mostly just for a Country Matters joke, Shakespeare probably would have approved of this.
    • Ellen Terry, an actress who played Beatrice (a character who is rather outspokenly against the idea of getting married for the first two acts) from Much Ado About Nothing had this to say about the difficulty in playing the part:

 She must always be merry and by turns scornful, tormenting, vexed, self-communing, absent, melting, teasing, brilliant, indignant, sad-merry, thoughtful, withering, gentle, humorous, and gay, Gay, Gay!

    • Examples in Julius Caesar:
      • Between Cassius and Brutus - "I have not from your eyes that gentleness/ And show of love as I was wont to have." and "Forgets the shows of Love to ther men." and "That I do fawn on men and hug them hard/ And after scandal them", "I cannot drink too much of Brutus' love."
      • Cassius - "..and Cassius must bend his body if Caesar carelessly but nod at him.", and (in reference to other Senators) "For who so firm cannot be seduced?", "Caesar doth bear me hard, but he loves Brutus."
      • Octavius - "Defiance, traitors, hurl we in your teeth". Ew.
      • Antony - "Tut, I am in thir bosoms." (I can see into their hearts.)
      • Varrus - "So please you, we will stand and watch your pleasure." (We are content to watch.)
      • Brutus - "Lucius!/ My gown!", and "Get you hence, sirrah; saucy fellow, hence!".
      • Let's not forget that Artemidorus, who writes Caesar a letter warning him of the conspirators, signs it, "Thy lover, Artemidorus."
    • Another play has the line "Sir, give him head." It was an instruction to listen to what he had to say, not what you're thinking. It was probably a misspelling/variant spelling of "give him heed" or a reference to horseback riding, where "give him his head" still means "let him go ahead, let him do as he will."
    • The Tempest: Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, is usurped and put out of see on "a rotten carcass of a butt". 'Butt' here meaning boat.
  • Lampshaded in the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, where the main character reads a blurb which declares the Jazz Age musical contains "mix-ups, mayhem, and a gay wedding." He explains: "Back then, it just meant 'fun'."
  • Happens over and over again in Hedda Gabler (translated into English in the 1950s). The word "gay" is used repeatedly as a euphemism between the characters for "overly hedonistic or sinful"... and the way they treat it as a euphemism just makes it more unintentionally funny.
  • From Angels in America (itself subtitled: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, this itself not an example):

 Prior: "I'm gay."

Prior's ancestor: "Well, be gay, dance in your altogether for all I care, what's that to do with not having children?"

Prior: "Gay homosexual, not bonny, blithe and... never mind."

  • There's a scene in a play I saw a long time ago that I think was called "Young Rube" which was about the life of Rube Goldberg, and his imaginary friend Boob Mc Nutt. Rube at one point tells of Boob's antics to a friend, who goes out and tells... a bar full of sailors, "Everyone should listen to their Boob!" As expected, everyone suddenly tries to lean their head down to their chest.
  • In South Pacific, there are several uses of the word gay, as well as the lyric "High as a flag on the Fourth of July"
  • The Fantasticks has (or had) an intentional example, where El Gallo, hired by the heroine's parents to kidnap her (It Makes Sense in Context), refers to the kidnapping as "rape", at which the parents are kind of freaked out until he explains that he doesn't mean it in that sense. A number called the "Rape Ballet" ensued. Later productions, however, have changed this to the "Abduction Ballet".
  • In The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne says that she made the shampoo she gave to Mrs. Van Daan for Hanukkah by mixing scraps of soap with toilet water. Here, "toilet water" refers to a type of perfume, but most modern audiences probably don't know this and find the line somewhat Squick-y.
  • One of the several drinking songs in The Student Prince had a chorus starting, "Come, boys, let's all be gay, boys."
  • In Pal Joey, just before the Dream Ballet, Joey envisions himself becoming "the gay Joey." This has no connection to an earlier moment demonstrating that Joey likes to chase boys as well as skirts.
  • Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat is a Meaningful Name -- but in the old sense of 'gay'.
  • In the original Cyrano De Bergerac, after Cyrano has successfully negotiated Christian into Roxanne's room, the play notes "They begin to make love." Now, it is not clear what was meant by that in 1897, but in the movie, they are clearly making out like teenagers.
  • Eleanor Farjeon (best known as the composer of "Morning Has Broken") says she was five when she saw a play called "The Babes", a parody of Babes In The Wood. She remembers a group of soldiers singing "We are Gay Volunteers! How we splash! How we dash!", apparently in reference to their fancy uniforms and not to the fact that Bertie, the heroic Captain of the Volunteers, was played by Miss Grace Huntley.
  • The one-act play "Yesterday" contains an example of "coming out" referring to young debutantes entering the social circle. The main female character, Lady Ann Trevers, is an elderly lady at a The Great Gatsby-style party; she complains to a man of similar age: "These coming out parties are not what they used to be."
  • A Polish translation of Moliere's The Miser has a police officer saying "Leave everything to me" in the way that nowadays means "Cum on me", and of course middle-schoolers love it.


Toys

  • Would anyone today even think of naming a kit full of miniature girders, bolts, and platforms, to be marketed to young boys, an "Erector Set"?
    • Worse yet, an ad for it said, "Boys today... men tomorrow!"
    • Mind you, the Firesign Theater caught that over 30 years ago - someone says "I have an Erector Set!" and his friends snicker "...show-off!...throw a towel over it!...do some pushups, it'll go away!"
  • In a similar vein, we have the Autobot Erector, who only fights when provoked.
  • This toy dog called Gaylord. He comes with a bone of his own.
  • My Little Pony's Rainbow dash could be that.


Video Games

  • Often mistranslations of the older games have reintroduced the words in their archaic meanings. For an example, one of the persons listed in the credits of the NES (Famicom) game Hi no Tori: Wagaou no Bouken is called "Nice Gay Masami".
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, during the board game challenge, Gruntilda calls you a "furry geek". Neither word is by itself unambiguous, but put them together...
  • Done quite deliberately in the ZX Spectrum text adventure Bored of the Rings (which may or may not have had some connection with the book of that name), which at one point had Fordo (the protagonist) meet up with a few "manly" (that was exactly how it was put, quotes and all) pop stars of the day. Stick around there too long, and you got "Fordo felt a queer sensation" followed by his accidentally dying of AIDS a few turns later.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 accidently makes birdo LGBT+


Web Comics


Web Original

 "It's such a lovely day today. Let's go to the Zoo!" exclaimed a vaguely aroused Carren.

"Why, that's a fantastic idea" ejaculated Eddy. "I shall awaken our baby children Belle and Bill".

  • This site gives a list of common mistranslations used by women on Russian dating agencies, often caused by using outdated dictionaries for translation -- among them are "gay" (used in the old sense), "intercourse" (not what you think) and "intercourse agency" (a dating agency).
    • While maybe it doesn't quite fit this trope, "Romantic evenings with candles" also brings certain images to mind.
  • Invisible Dick The linked page is full of these.
  • Looking up 'spunk' at the Urban Dictionary will net you references to Australian slang for a really hot guy (supposedly a contraction of "sexy punk"), and American slang for marijuana. It's even more fun to look it up on dictionary.com--not only does the word "punk" appear again (in an even more obscure meaning involving wood--no, not that kind of wood, the kind you light fireworks with!)--but it brings up ads for sperm banks. Kinda puts a whole new spin on this classic exchange between nervous new employee Mary and her irascible boss, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show (circa 1970):

 Lou: You've got spunk...

Mary: Wh- why, thank you.

Lou: ...I hate spunk!


Western Animation

  • The trope name itself comes from the last line of The Flintstones theme song.
    • Two of the spinoffs from the Flintstones modified that line. "The Flintstones Comedy Hour/Show" proclaimed "We'll have a groovy time" (this was early-1970s, mind you), while "The New Fred and Barney Show" sang "We'll have a great old time".
    • The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson mentioned this in a Funny Moments. "Well, back then, 'gay' meant fun. Not like now, when it means 'really fun.'"
    • In an episode of Drawn Together, the cast drives by a devastated Bedrock, and Princess Clara snidely comments "well that's what they get for a having a gay old time."
  • In Daria, Quin says “if you look you best when you blow someone off it makes it look like you care.”
  • Played for laughs on The Simpsons, where Mr. Burns is apparently completely unaware of the latter-day definition of the word "gay." On one occasion, on a shock-jock radio show, he recalls his father taking him to a picnic when he was a child, saying "That certainly was a gay experience. I ate my share of wieners that day!"
    • Another memorable instance: Mr. Burns asks Smithers what he did this weekend, "Something gay, no doubt." Smithers is momentarily taken aback, but Burns continues, "You know, light-hearted, fancy free, mothers lock up your daughters, Smithers is on the town!" Smithers is visibly relieved.
      • Later on, Smithers is set on fire, and runs by Mr. Burns, who is watering the lawn. Screaming, "Help me, Mr. Burns! I'm flaming!". Cue an Aside Glance that shatters the Fourth Wall.
      • Burns (to Homer): "You're much more fun than Smithers. He doesn't even know the meaning of the word 'gay'!" (cue Gilligan Cut that demonstrates that, yeah, he kinda does).
      • The season 22 episode "Flaming Moe" turns this up to eleven; one of Smithers' "friends" comments upon meeting Burns that he didn't know Smithers was into "lemon parties" [8], and Burns obliviously insists that he gets "first squeeze".
    • "Individually, we are weak like a single twig; but as a bundle, we form a mighty faggot!" Subtitles: "Faggot: A bunch of sticks used for fuel."
    • Then there's also Kent Brockman thanking New Springfield for making them rich "From now on, we'll be taking golden showers!" Which is followed by off-screen laughter from the crew as Brockman asks "What?!"
    • Unlike when it was aired, The Telltale Head may make your kids giggle with Homer's line: "You know, Bart, when I was your age, I pulled a few boners."
  • ABC Family cut the song "Give Your Heart a Try" from the Rankin/Bass animated version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas because of the use of the word "gay" in the lyrics.
  • Topping the list of Things You Probably Shouldn't Say on Animated Series Anymore, from Ruby-Spears' Mega Man:

 Protoman: [challenging his younger brother to a fight] I'll take ya any way you want!

    • "Whatever turns you on, Doc..."
  • Grandpa in The Boondocks isn't up to date with the lingo, and when he hears about the R. Kelly case, he comments "I wish someone gave me a golden shower" to the amusement of Riley.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Lost Mattress" has Mr. Krabs use "queer" in its "strange, unusual" meaning; what makes this bizarre is that the episode was made in the early 21st century.
    • Given that Mr. Krabs' entire manner of speech is intentionally archaic, it's pretty in-line with his character. It's unlikely that any other character would use the term.
  • Similarly to the above Virginia Woolf example, Optimus Prime once expressed amazement at "a booby trap that actually catches boobies".
  • In one episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog upon hearing that an island was full of "booby traps", Grounder responds with "Booby traps? What does he think we are, boobs?"
  • Some old Looney Tunes shorts have titles that make you look twice nowadays:
    • "Puss 'N' Booty" (1943)
    • "Angel Puss" (1944)
    • "Bone, Sweet Bone" (1948)
    • "Boobs in the Woods" (1948)
    • "Easter Yeggs" had Bugs encountering a weeping Easter Bunny who explains to him that his job delivering Easter eggs has made his feet sore and thus is unable to continue the job unless another rabbit does it for him (unbeknown to him, the Easter Bunny tricks other rabbits by guilt tripping them to doing the job for him while he doesn't have to do anything). During his sob story, he briefly mentions himself being "happy and gay" before hurting his feet. This can be taken both ways.
  • Several old Tom and Jerry shorts have "Puss" or "Pussy" in the title.
  • A 1960 Woody Woodpecker short is titled Billion Dollar Boner ("boner", of course, being outdated slang for a screwup or a mistake).
    • And for crying out loud, the name Woody.
      • ... and "pecker"....
    • Another Walter Lantz cartoon features Andy Panda doing battle with a garden weed. Title: The Wacky Weed.
  • A Yogi Bear cartoon from the 1960s featured a troop of boy scouts camping at Jellystone Park, and Yogi scheming to get them to "share" their food with him. Ranger Smith sternly reprimands Yogi for this, saying, "Those boy scouts would never molest a bear, and I'm going to make sure that no bear molests them." "Molest", of course, had a meaning closer to "harass" or "upset" back then, but nowadays that line just comes out wrong, and the whole boy scout thing makes it even wronger.
    • "I know what we're all thinking".
      • Of course anyone who does attempt that kind of a thing with a bear probably deserves whatever they get.
    • Similarly, the the 1942 Porky Pig/Daffy Duck short My Favorite Duck has a scene where Daffy points out a sign reading: "Season closed - No duck shooting - Don't even molest a duck".
      • The Polish translator went with the word "molestowac", which means exclusively "to sexually harass" in modern Polish. Apparently, the translator missed something there. Also, the translator omitted the word "even", which quite clearly points to the fact that "molests" means something mild in this context.
  • An episode of X-Men: Evolution has Juggernaut boasting that he's raw power. Cyclops responds, "You want it raw, tough guy? Then take it raw!" before ripping off his protective barrier. 'Raw' is becoming more and more recognized as a term for condomless sex.
  • In one episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, a young boy interrupts a crime by shouting "Your gangbanging days are over!" at the perpetrators.
    • Gang banger is still used as a term for someone in a gang, meaning that this is simply an unintentional Double Entendre. In the future, however, examples may well turn into this.
  • Remember the 'making love' explanation earlier? Does explain how Pepe Le Pew got away with saying he'd love to do this all night and all day with an obviously non-consenting non-skunk he happened to grab without everyone and their senator screaming to bleach out the soundtrack.
  • Speaking of the changing meaning of 'making love', a Jem song ("Who Is He Kissing?") featured the line "who is he kissing/is it me?/or is he making love to a fantasy?"
  • A Fractured Fairy Tales segment had the Big Bad Wolf as a lazy cad, reading a popular upscale girlie mag with the slightly altered title "Gay Boy".
  • In the British cartoon King Arthur's Disasters Lancelot's catchphrase when something happens that he doesn't like is "Oh Blow!"
  • The 1936 Felix the Cat cartoon "Bold King Cole" had Felix singing this lyric.

 We laugh and play, it keeps us gay".

 Matthew Pocket: Oh, what a gay time we shall have, and I do mean gay as in festive, not as in penetration of the bum.

  • In Doug, Roger Klotz says "Yeah, what do you know Skeet-face"


Real Life

 Superintendent Chalmers: Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to my vacation at Lake Titicaca. Let's see you make a joke out of that, Mr. Smart guy!

  • This trope is Older Than Feudalism: the 1st century rhetorician Quintilian complains about people who giggle at phrases like "patrare bellum" (finish off = make orgasm, in the slang of Quintilian's era] the war/pretty boy). And apparently there was no reason to take Vergil's "incipiunt agitata tumescere" (stirred up, they begin to swell) with any other meaning, either...
  • The Gay Nineties.
    • There was a supper club in Boston called 'The Gay Nineties' as late as 1950.
    • There was a pizza place called "Dirty Dave's Gay Nineties" in Olympia, WA, USA. As of 2010, it dropped the latter part of the name and is now simply the slightly less suggestive "Dirty Dave's".
    • There used to be a chain of hot dog restaurants in Indianapolis called Gay Dan's, complete with a mascot of a man in a brightly colored outfit. The mascot disappeared and the chain changed its name to "Mr. Dan's" in the early 80s for some mysterious reason.
  • The expression Gay Paree is still used as a humorous nickname for Paris. However, the associated stereotype of Frenchmen kissing each other on the cheek has long been played for Ho Yay.
    • Both the meanings are used at the end of the '70s song "Georgina Bailey"; the eponymous character is infatuated with her uncle, but at the end he explains to her that he has a boyfriend; in doing so he actually uses the phrase "Gay Paree".
    • Both meanings are implied in the song "Gay Paree" in the movie and musical "Victor/Victoria".
  • One should be a bit wary when talking about eggs in Finnish, as the word "muna", which means "egg", is also a very common slang term for penis. The plural, "munat", isn't much better since it, on the other hand, can and often does refer to testicles.
  • At British Public Schools the stereotype of homosexuality is not helped by the practice of some boys acting as "fags" for others. The word means servant. Another meaning is American slang for homosexual. It is difficult not to see innuendo in works where the term is used. See, for instance, the Raffles stories.
  • In CS Lewis' account of his school, practically everything revolved around the "bloods" and the "tarts", and that meant exactly what it sounds like it means.
  • A British paper ran a story on George Michael quitting smoking under the headline "He's Trying To Give Up Fags"; on the very same day, Mr. Michael was caught exposing himself to an undercover officer in a public restroom, an odd little coincidence pointed out and mocked on The Daily Show that week.
  • Some mills in northern England used to have an official "knocker-up"; this was a bloke who went round the streets about half an hour before work started awakening the workers.
  • To continue the British trend, a phrase referring to someone's sexuality is "As gay as Christmas" (Also used in Life On Mars)
    • There's also "gay as the first day of spring".
    • "First of May, first of May..."
      • Americans have "gay as springtime." which has weathered the change just as well.
  • Thong is still used to refer to a strap of leather in the United States but, again, it also has the other meaning.
  • "Burlesque" used to mean a stage show that would include parodic takes on plays and books. Now, at least in the US, it's an X-rated stage show involving striptease.
  • "Straight" has, for a very long time, had a variety of figurative meanings that center on the concept of "normal, ordinary". Some of these are still in use ("I'll have my vodka straight"), while others are fading or long gone. Current common usage is Sexual identification ("not homosexual; heterosexual"). A memorable example is a 19th-century preacher's letter, in which he explains -->"Like the Indian's tree, I was once so straight that I leaned a little the other way."
  • "Vanilla" is also difficult to use. It used to be "vanilla" as an adjective either referring to the actual flavor/plant or to "the standard setting." Nowadays, vanilla implies boring, bland (as in taste, vanilla being figurative for a default flavor) or (sexually speaking) not being into anything particularly kinky.
  • This sports team.
  • In parts of Ireland and England, "meet" means "French kiss". Hilarity Ensues: "I met John at the gig on Friday." etc.
  • The Swedes and the Norwegians use 'mus' (mouse) for the same purpose we use 'pussy'. Sadly the word for the device attached to your computer is exactly the same.
  • A 1920s magazine article about teens getting caught up in jazz/flapper culture suggested that a concerned father should "Make love to your daughter if necessary!" -- in the sense of having a serious, heartfelt talk together.
  • Boobies! Tell me they would have named them that if they had been discovered recently...
    • As pointed out by The Far Side and its cartoon on unfair animal names. The guy named Clarence was probably supposed to be the punchline, but...
    • The multiple usages of "boobies" are milked for all they're worth by souvenir shops in the Galápagos Islands, where such birds are every bit as common as touristas with a crude sense of humor.
    • The Booby shares the same etymological source as the dolt or lug, namely the Spanish bubi meaning dunce, for their tendency to be easily captured and eaten by wayward sailors. That meaning still exists in American English, but is extremely rare.
      • Was a source of many laughs when two male friends who were birdwatchers were asked by a stranger what they were doing at a nude beach with binoculars and one replied, "We're looking for Brown Boobies." (Honestly, there is a bird called a Brown Booby often seen around that beach).
    • "Tits" are also birds. Some of which are Great Tits. And Blue Tits.
      • "Tit" is usually used for Old World members of the family Paridae. What a New World member of that family is called varies; the crested members, titmice (singular: titmouse), have a similar name, while chickadees, which look more similar to their Old World relatives, ended up being named after what they sound like (thus avoiding Accidental Innuendo when talking about them).
      • You can find nice tits here.
        • They are actually called the Royal Tit-Watching Society of Britan. Oh. My. God.
      • UK website The Register has often had fun with the BBC's tendency to schoolboy humour regarding these species. One such article was memorable for its headline alone -- "BBC continues to milk great tits".
    • In British English at least, as well as "bird" and "breast", "tit" or "booby" also means "idiot". This was used in many episodes of Only Fools and Horses, where Rodney would point out to Derek that his company's name (Trotter's Independent Traders) formed the acrostic "TIT".
    • Tits, boobies, and as if ornithologists weren't pervy enough already, Shags!
    • Don't forget the woodcock!
    • Or the dickcissel!
    • The Bolivian Tree Lizard has "already wiped out the Dodo, the Cuckoo, and the Ne-Ne, and it has nasty plans for the Booby, the Titmouse, the Woodcock, and the Titpecker".
    • Given some current slang for male anatomy, Woody Woodpecker cartoons suddenly become a lot more entertaining the second time round.
    • Ah, a handsome cock-of-the-rock!
    • There's also a kind of beetle called the cockchafer. What's more, there have been a long line of Royal Navy gunboats with the name HMS Cockchafer.
  • Sperm Whales. Especially considering that someone wrote a story about one named Moby Dick.
  • Asses. You know, donkeys.
  • The word "cougar" can mean either a North American species of wildcat, or an older woman sexually interested in younger men. Fortunately for the cats' reputations, though, the alternate names "puma" and "mountain lion" don't carry any amusing connotations.
  • The initials "L.S.D." mentioned in older British writings don't refer to a hallucinogenic substance but to pounds, shillings and pence. Pre-1971, there was a joke badge saying "I'm an £SD addict".
    • The Libra, Solidi and Denarii of classical Rome, which are surprisingly seldom used in fantasy games based off medieval Europe, despite being a perfectly good and effectively authentic monetary system.
      • To bring this into context, the Denarius is a Roman coin worth 10 Asses', from the Greek ἀσσάριον, in English "As" for the singular, "Asses" in the plural. So a man with 42 denarii could be said to have 420 Asses.
  • When Israeli author Amos Oz was 12 years old, his grandfather took him to a Herut party rally to hear Menachem Begin speak. Begin began rallying the Israelis to "take up arms" against "the enemies which have besieged Israel". However, this was an archaic form of Hebrew: in modern Hebrew slang, this could be interpreted as "taking up genitalia" against "the enemies which have fornicated with Israel." Oz burst out laughing, and his grandfather, embarrassed beyond belief, dragged him outside and slapped him. The whole incident is related in Oz's memoirs, "A Tale of Love and Darkness." Oz clarifies that "arm" referred exclusively to the male sexual organ, and "to arm," indicated "the corresponding action."
  • There's a joke that takes advantage of this. Think of a four letter word, ending in "k" that means "intercourse": talk
  • According to a 1959 Camp Fire Girls (now Camp Fire USA) manual, the achievement now known as "Wood Gatherer" was once known as "Faggot Finder." It was changed for obvious reasons.
  • Inversion: In Japanese, prior to WW 2, "pants" (pantsu) exclusively meant panties, and "zubon" meant trousers. Nowadays, "pants" refers to both (requiring context to understand which is intended), and "zubon" is considered an antiquated word (Nonetheless, foreigners are advised to always use "zubon" unless they really do mean "pants", because it's safer that way, and the Japanese version of That Other Wiki uses that word probably to cause less confusion, and possibly since it's part of an international project that non-native speakers have access to as well).
  • The most important street in downtown Knoxville Tennessee is Gay Street. The street ends in an ironwork bridge over 100 years old that is the Gay Street Bridge.
    • Gay Street in Bath, Somerset, England, manages to take it even further. According to the article on That Other Wiki:

 "Gay Street in Bath, Somerset, England, links Queen Square to The Circus. It was designed by John Wood, the Elder in 1735 and completed by his son John Wood, the Younger."

  • There is a burger chain in California (and Arizona and Nevada now) called In-N-Out. While their burgers are almost universally loved and is considered a staple of Californian Culture, its name leads to snickers every now and then from those unfamiliar with it. (It was named that as the first In-N-Out was a drive-thru, which at the time was very unique.)
    • In-N-Out's burgers are well known enough and liked enough to keep the name grandfathered for some time.
    • Neil Young's Tear Jerker song "You Never Call" is about the sudden death of a close friend, talking about how he took Neil's son to In-N-Out stands after hockey games. At shows outside of California, this song gets big laughs.
    • On top of all that, the name is a bit ridiculous because it's not uncommon to wait a good half an hour or more for your food, due to the fact that everything is made fresh to order. More like In-N-Wait.
  • The Russian ruler known in English as "Ivan the Terrible" is a victim of this trope; if his nickname had changed along with the English language, he would be called something like "Ivan the Terrifying" instead.
    • And in original Russian the meaning of his name is closer to "Ivan the Stern" or "Ivan the Fierce".
  • Much like the English versions of this trope, Mandarin Chinese has the word "Tongzhi" which means "Comrade". In mainland China, the term has come to describe homosexuals. Older people have not caught up on it and still use Tongzhi in its traditional sense.
    • Taiwan, however, also uses Tongzhi in its original meaning.
    • Another Chinese example: In the 1950s, the Chinese army issued a gunnery manual to all its riflemen entitled "All About Shooting Airplanes". Unfortunately, the phrase "shooting airplanes", as used by modern Chinese people, now has an entirely different meaning, and consequently the book has become a minor Internet sensation. Documented on this page.
    • The main reason of course is because the action is somewhat similar to operating an anti-air gun.
  • In Colorado, there is an animal shelter/rescue organization named the Dumb Friends League. It referred to them being unable to speak, but now that the term means "stupid"...
  • The deeply religious Amish people of Pennsylvania, despite living in a state whose municipalities include such Biblically-named cities as Bethlehem, Nazareth, and even Philadelphia, tend to be found in the vicinity of the village of Intercourse, Pennsylvania.
    • And nearby you will also find Blue Ball.
      • Other towns, not necessarily in Pennsylvania, are Beaver Lick, Virginville, Hooker, Weiner, Fort Dick, Climax, Okahumpka, Two Egg, Cumming, Ballstown, Grosse Tete, Eros, Dickey, Gay, Fertile, Licking, Conception, Love Ladies, Tingle, Meat Camp, Horneytown, Bunlevel, Big Lick, Desire, Hammer, Finger, Butts, Ding Dong, Short Pump, Threeway, Humptulips, Spread Eagle, Camel Hump and Hoo Hoo. Internationally, we have Dildo in Newfoundland, Canada, and Fucking, Austria (they have constant trouble with tourists stealing their street signs).
  • The phrase "opposing with manly firmness" in the Declaration of Independence comes off today as, depending on how dirty one's mind is, either a mood breaker or just plain filthy, when the word "manly" would have been understood at the time to mean "unanimous," in the same vein as "daily."
  • The word "ultimate" technically means "last", but these days hardly anyone would learn this sense first. There is a short story was called "The Ultimate Car", which has a mayor fretting over how the arrival of "the ultimate car" has caused gridlock in his fair town. The reader is meant to think, "Well, duh. Everyone's flocking to see this new awesome car." And then the reader learns that ultimate actually means last, and the nature of the gridlock becomes clear: the ultimate car was merely the last car that would fit on the roads.
  • Gay does exist both as a family name and as a given name.
    • At least one newspaper appears to have a tool to auto-correct potentially offensive terms on all of its stories, such that a certain Olympic sprinter's name was changed to "Tyson Homosexual".
  • The German word "geil" nowadays means "cool", while before it was along the lines of "wanton" and considered vulgar, and even longer before that it just referred to overgrowth of plants.
    • Depending on context, it nowadays either means 'cool', 'horny' or 'hot' (as in, you make me horny). Dialectally, it can also mean fatty.
  • In Filipino gay lingo, males who have just come out as gay are called X-Men (ex-men).
  • There is an Aesop's Fable called "The Ass, the Cock and the Lion". It's really about a donkey and a rooster facing a lion, but, well, read for yourself.
  • Let's not forget an actor by the name of Dick Van Dyke.
  • The human species Homo erectus was named so back in the late 18th century (at the time, it was the oldest hominin known to walk on two legs, i.e. "erect"). Fast forward to the present day, cue some sniggers and homosexual jokes.
  • Liturgical Hebrew can be very different from Modern Hebrew. This has caused some uproar when the rav Ovadia Yosef called someone a nemusha (נְמוּשָׁה), LH for 'elder in need of protection’ and MH for ‘wimp’.
  • "Slut" used to mean a slob, usually a female slob. "Slut's wool" meant dustbunnies.
  • This is probably why careless mistakes in baseball are now called bonehead plays.
  • Biographies of baby saint Jacinta Marto can come off a bit Squickworthy when dear old Father Cruz comes along and teaches her to ejaculate.
    • "Daddy, why can't I say short prayers like Mummy and the gardener do?"
  • Gaylord is still the name of a popular hotel chain in the U.S. South. They even sponsored a college football bowl game for awhile.
  • Don't forget about Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry.
  • Example from Spanish: In northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S., the slang usage of huevos to mean "testicles" has become so pervasive that one risks embarrassment using the word to buy eggs at the market. Some prudent Spanish speakers have begun referring to eggs as blanquillos ("little white things") instead.
    • Another examples in Spanish, most Spaniards used to get confused when travelling to Argentina, as in that country, words wich are meant to be common and neutral in Spain such as "Coger" (To Take) and "Concha" (Shell, Also a Lady's name) become "To fuck" and "Cunt" respectively. Also worth to mention how Chileans would not understand spaniards' fonding on take photographies on "La Polla Nacional" (National Lottery) while giggling and nudgin'. "La Polla Nacional" would be kinda "The National Cock" for a Spaniard
    • Also, in Spain, Cristo de la Repolla Street, originally "Chist of the cabbages", nowadays "Motherfucking Christ"
  • Ludwig Bieberbach - German mathematician, Nazi sympathizer, and no longer mentionable without chuckling.
  • The American use of the term "gang banger" to describe gangs of thugs. To folks from the UK, the term exclusively refers to the sexual act, providing accidental hilarity to any American story that uses the term to refer to the former.
    • And even in America, you forget to include proper context at your own peril.
  • There's a statue in the Cathedral of St. Paul in London praising a 19th-century military officer for, among other things, his "coolness". Obviously, it means "calmness", but it's rather amusing to see such a Totally Radical-seeming word engraved on a classical-style sculpture of a historical figure.
  • In the middle ages, archery practice fields were called "butts". So if you were going to practice archery, you'd have to go practice shooting in the butts. This is the origin of calling someone the butt (target) of a joke.
  • Carnival Ecstasy... no wonder why it had a fire, and elevator related death and less notable than it's few sister ships.


Other

  • There is a Finnish educational video titled Muna on mukava juttu, "An egg is a nice thing", which tells about the health benefits of eggs. Unfortunately, showing the video to a school class is bound to cause some snickering due to the word "muna", "egg", also being a slang term for a penis. Make the word a plural and it either refers to multiple eggs or testicles. Cue laughter when one of the kids on the video instructs his friends to "take the eggs in your hands"...
  • A filmstrip put out by the LDS church back in the 70s has a funny example of this in its Spanish translation. The filmstrip is an allegory comparing a caterpillar in its cocoon to the resurrection. At one point, the younger brother insists that the caterpillar must be dead since it's been inside its cocoon for so long. The older brother explains to the younger brother that these things just take time and that "pronto sadrá de su capullo y será una bella mariposa." Which, technically means "soon he'll come out of his cocoon and be a beautiful butterfly. However, taking into account certain slang terms, it can also mean "soon he'll come out of his foreskin and be a beautiful gay man."
    • Even more hilariously, capullo is also slang for stupid.[10]
  • The term "G-string" originally meant "a loincloth worn by American Indian men". Referring to the groin, then an inappropriate term for polite company. G-string was intentionally juxtaposed with the musical term.
  • The first Russian atlas was called "The Show of all the World". The word used to mean "show" back then, now means "shame"...
  • A 1972 paper by WD Hamilton on the evolution of altruism in insects uses the word "bisexual" to mean that a behavior is found in both sexes of a species.
    • Nowadays the term is "unisex".
  • Apparently, a 1883 London Times article had this little line describing the role of a Bouncer

 " 'The Bouncer' is merely the English 'chucker out'. When liberty verges on license and gaiety on wanton delirium, the Bouncer selects the gayest of the gay, and --bounces him!"

  • Various tv shows, movies, and animes up to around the mid 90's would sometimes refer to Condominiums as condoms for short... after a few decades of that I guess we realized what we were saying and started using 'condo' instead.
    • If this usage had continued, it would have given the Doom 2 level "Monster Condo" a whole new meaning.
  • Xbox Live once suspended a Fort Gay, West Virginia resident for putting the town's name as his profile location. That user brought it up with customer service, trying to convince them that Fort Gay is a real location, and had nothing to do with sexual orientation.
  • A long time ago, German men named Ignaz (from Ignatius) often got the nickname "Naz" or "Nazi". Guess why this stopped somewhen during the twentieth century, especially with the latter nickname.
    • But in America at least, the nickname was probably pronounced "Nazzy" rather than "Notzee."
    • This hasn't stopped with "Naz" though. There is a female Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy character with Naz as a name.
  • In the (German) opera Lohengrin, the title character insists upon being called the Leader rather than the Duke of Brabant. In the opera itself, the word Führer was originally used for "Leader" in performances. This was changed to Schützer for reasons that should be obvious...
  • The Enola Gay, anyone? Its payload was code-named Little Boy, which isn't an example by itself, but juxtaposed with the craft's name...
  • In order to receive their certificates, student pilots must pass exams both in the aircraft and on the ground. The ground portion is naturally called the Oral Exam. This is usually shortened to just "oral" and applied to any verbal instruction. The term has persisted despite--or maybe because of--the connotation modern English has given the word. This leads to giggle-inducing statements like "I can't go out; I've got to do an oral with my instructor. It's going to take all night. Yeah, he's really hard..."
  • There is (was?) a plastic toy company called "Gay Toys, Inc."
  • For any Americans coming to Australia, be warned: down here, a thong is a type of footwear, not a revealing pair of typically female undergarments. So don't get too excited if you're at the beach and hear someone talking about two hot chicks in rubber thongs.
  • The Russian cartoon "Blue Puppy" is about a puppy who was born with blue fur. All the other animals spurn him for that sole reason and sing a mocking song with words like "You're blue, you're blue, we don't want to play with you", "You're a disgrace to the whole world" and "We don't need blue dogs here!". The puppy laments his fate, saying "Why, oh why was I born blue?" Eventually he overcomes his grief, finds a friend and muses, that "It's OK to be blue". This cartoon was created before the word "blue" became a common euphemism for "gay".
  • In the city of Manchester, England, as you travel via the main arterial road from the south, you will pass a very-long established and respected dealer in tropical fish and indoor aquaria who have a deserved reputation for quality and excellence in all areas to do with indoor fish-keeping. The business name is a homage to the family who have run the premises for three generations and see no need to change it now just because there are other associations. They are called Gay-Lyfe Limited.

Notes

  1. It would be amusing if people from The Gay Nineties Time Traveled to today, and wondered why there were people who opposed prostitutes getting married, and happy marriages in general.
  2. At the time this movie was made (1937) make love was also being used in its modern, physical, sense — and Groucho was not shy about his language.
  3. Who?
  4. as in shrewd and perceptive, of course
  5. To be fair to the subtitlers, who are from Hong Kong, they're translating Japanese into Chinese, then Chinese into English, while not having much knowledge of either foreign language.
  6. itself, meaning strange or bizarre, not necessarily supernatural or magical.
  7. try saying it out loud
  8. (VERY not safe for work, look it up yourself-- or, better yet, don't)
  9. "urine us"
  10. So "Soon he'll come out of his stupidity and become a beautiful gay man"? Not a bad advice for somebody in the Transparent Closet!
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