Can we even use denotative definitions anymore?

Not really sure if this is the right forum for this - I guess I’m not really looking for a huge debacle so much as opinions or personal experiences.

A week or so ago in a public speaking class the professor was showing a few video clips for us to review, and made a comment about the camera work in one of them being “sort of queer”, by which said professor meant that it was odd and strange, and unnecessary for the type of video it was. This was made plain by further comments that she made as the video went on.

There is a student who sits a bit down the row from me who I know to be a homosexual, and I noticed that his facial expression following the comment did not suggest extreme pleasure with the term’s usage. This made me wonder, is it still ok to use such terms with their dictionary definitions?

Searches for similar threads revealed such as this - - which seems to discuss mostly the using of “gay” as a derogatory meaning lame, stupid, what have you. Maybe I’m not looking in the right place?

Anyway, what are your opinions/experiences regarding questionably accepted dictionary definitions of such terms?

I know better than to be niggardly about them.

I would never say “hi ho” to a women’s basketball team.

Hi ho, Hi ho, It’s off the air you go … whistles

Sorry. Couldn’t resist. :stuck_out_tongue:

I see no reason we should stop using words that have different meanings, unless those are derogatory meanings.

As far as I know, and really I don’t know at all, “queer” was never used as an insult. It was appropriated by homosexuals first as their own word. Same with “gay”. Compare with “faggot” which was always insulting, though I don’t know why it was used, as it has something to do with starting campfires, which doesn’t seem to correlate…

or I suppose if you’re British, having a fag in your mouth didn’t have nearly the same meaning…
(although I suppose some particularly militant anti-gays still wouldn’t mind burning a faggot or two)

thing is, if the word in question has been more or less wholly appropriated to the other use, the dictionary will probably even include that definition too.

The problem is that people brought up hearing “queer” as a synonym for gay simply don’t seem to understand that there even IS an “original use” of the word, or at least see it as outdated or archaic. Legally, yeah, you can use any of those words, but you might want to choose a synonym to get your point across better.

"Queer’ was ***always ***used as an insult, decades before its positive use. And to many, it still is.


There is a germanic word “quer” meaning odd that dates back to the 1600’s. “Queer” as a derogatory didn’t pop up until the 20th century.