A Conversation for Descriptors for Sexual Minorities

Etymology of faggot

Post 1


From where do you get this fantastic etymology of the word faggot?

Sounds like Catholic bashing nonsense to me.

Etymology of faggot

Post 2

Wand'rin star

What's your alternative? Any connection to fag meaning a younger boy who acted as a servant to an older boy at boarding school?

Etymology of faggot

Post 3


Faggot has the same root word as 'fascist'. From the latin 'facis' (or something fairly similar smiley - smiley) meaning a bundle of sticks ('fascist' comes from the use of Mussolini's party of the symbol of the Roman axe whose handle is made of a bundle of sticks).

Which doesn't get me any closer to 'faggot' as applied to homosexuals... So I'll have a stab at it: (pause here to look up online dictionary- is that cheating?)

The 1913 Webster does not have 'faggot' in it's modern derogatory sense, so it probably dates from after that. The only derogatory meaning it does contain is:

An old shriveled woman. [Slang, Eng.]

Possibly it does stem from small twigs: the idea that they were small, worthless, and of no account would, bearing in mind the prevailing attitude for much of the 20th century, transfer readily to a group of people who were 'outcast' by society.

Though to honest, that sounds pretty weak even to me smiley - smiley

Etymology of faggot

Post 4

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

Many etymology sites refuse to look into "fag" or "faggot." For one thing, it is considered slang and thus many etymologists consider it beneath their interest.

Second, faggot has had many meanings in many different languages over the years including bundle of sticks or twigs, broken sewing thread, a verb for making someone tired with hard work, young boy (especially one going to school), witch, woman, cigarette, fascist, feminine man, and homosexual male.

Where most laymen are satisfied with a preponderance of evidence indicating which meaning led to which, many academic etymologists label anything that isn't fully documented from start to finish"unclear." This is, of course, understandable since their professional reputations are at stake. However, slang words are rarely fully documented.

It is known that the "bundle of sticks" meaning is the oldest in the English language, and the word "faggot" for homosexual men was first used in English. The rest, of course, is a matter of historical context and number odds to guess how the one led to the other.

Take Our Word For It

A queer look at several etymological possibilities (about halfway down the page):

Here's a site which looks at the witch-burning connection:

A rather basic and possibly biased confirmation:

You could also see:
Johansson, Warren. 1981. "The Etymology of the Word `Faggot'." Gay Books Bulletin 6, pp. 16-18, 33.

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