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Alarming Female - I expected more of the OED

I expected more of the OED

Dear editor of the Oxford American College Dictionary11497834.jpg,

I would like to bring to your attention a troubling situation with the aforementioned dictionary.

Under the entry for the adjective “gay,” the third definition reads:

3 informal foolish; stupid: making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule.


I’m surprised I would have to tell you that using the word ‘gay’ as a synonym for ‘stupid’ is far more than “informal” usage. It’s clearly a cultural slur indicative of the negative sentiment persons who are homosexual endure daily in American culture.

As a public school teacher, I thought my job was to enlighten junior high and high school students, not dictionary editors.

When you print other culturally specific words used as slurs you generally preface the definition with the abbreviation “offens.” to clarify the word’s usage as offensive. I hope you will make this correction in subsequent editions of this dictionary.

I’ve always held Oxford University Press in high esteem and I realize editing a dictionary is an enormous task, but I am truly astounded and offended at the insensitivity shown by this omission.

Sincerely yours,

A concerned reader and lover of dictionaries (and gay people)

P.S. What kind of phrase is “kind of a gay rule”? Who are you hiring over there to write your copy? Sheesh.

On another topic altogether—

Is anyone interested in knitting up some squares for blankets for local persons/families recently affected by (take your pick, sadly) tragedy? I know someone with more blog traffic would have to publicize it, but I’d be in for a couple, at least, and I’m sure we could get some knitbloggers behind us—hmmm?

I’m thinking worsted weight, superwash wool, 8-inch squares–can I get a shout out witness? What say you?

Comments 5

  1. Heather Joins The Round wrote:

    I am so angry about that definition! I call people on that usage every time I hear it. Evolution of language, blah blah, but they should amend it to acknowledge it’s offensive!

    I’m in for one blanket square. What colors are you thinking?

    Posted 21 Feb 2007 at 9:01 am
  2. Eileen wrote:

    Well that definition is just upsetting! Your response was exceptionally well-written. Being out of the mainstream of kids’ usage, I didn’t realize that word was being used this way. Indeed, it should be listed as ‘offensive’ and not ‘informal’.

    BTW, do they include ‘jeebus’? And, is it listed as ‘informal’ or ‘offensive’?

    Posted 21 Feb 2007 at 9:33 am
  3. Eileen wrote:

    I first read your blog headline as ‘I expected more of the IUD’.

    Has interesting reverberations in my life.

    Posted 21 Feb 2007 at 9:43 am
  4. KatherineOfItAll wrote:

    Yay for blanket squares! I’m in for as many as I can stand to knit (one or twenty, who knows?).

    Posted 21 Feb 2007 at 10:44 am
  5. susan wrote:

    I’ll knit squares. I even have some of that KnitItaly yarn. I just have to find it.

    Posted 21 Feb 2007 at 7:40 pm