(Note: please read through what I am asking before taking offense and feel free to edit to make it less offensive)

When I was growing up in the 70-80s it was common for kids to say things like "oh, your taste in music is so gay". Now, I am not saying we were very tolerant either, but at 12-13 we really didn't know all that much about sexual orientation, and we really meant "your taste is very lame", but with the intent to do it in a vulgar fashion. Later on, we kept on using the word, but really very separately from any homophobic intent per se. This was also often used between people who actually liked each other, more a mock insult than a true one.

Nowadays it's not acceptable to use "gay" in that sense. I am not defending that use and I welcome the shift away from that pejorative usage of the word.

But I wish there was something to replace it with.

Is there a suitably obscene equivalent to "lame", minus homophobic (or racist) overtones? Just to vulgarly express strong contempt for someone's choices or tastes.

  • Well, there's "retro", meaning "old-fashioned", not up to date. That's not obscene, though.
    – Xanne
    Apr 16, 2018 at 6:44
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    If you really need vulgar, use old reliable: "your taste in music is so fucked-up"
    – J. Taylor
    Apr 16, 2018 at 8:32
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    I wouldn't say it's vulgar per se, it's relying on the subject of the comment taking offence at being compared to an outlier group they disapprove of. Nowadays you could probably substitute "gays" for "hipsters" or "libtards" or something.
    – JonLarby
    Apr 16, 2018 at 10:44
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    If you aim to avoid disparaging unconnected groups in your search for an insult, I'd recommend you avoid lame too.
    – Jon Hanna
    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:33
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    @RustyCore. So one person lectures me about lame and dumb and objects to me describing him as politically correct. But you somehow figure you're going to go the other way and claim gay is commonly used to mean happy. Newsflash, in 2019, it's not. Even if it was, calling someone's tastes gay has nothing to do with the happy meaning of the word. The Language Police, as evidenced by the first approach, is stifling. Your approach, saying it's OK to use terms now largely linked to sexual orientation, in a pejorative manner, disregards the effect of language on attitudes, esp w kids. Feb 24, 2019 at 18:11

3 Answers 3


If you really feel the need for a pejorative, what's wrong with just saying their taste is "shit"?

If you really want to come up with something that has some sting, a non-pejorative term that actually attacks a feature of the music will probably serve much better. Which do you think burns the most:

Oasis is gay

Oasis's tired regurgitation to the tropes of Lennon and McCartney without any of the wit, originality or heart the Beatles had are why the Gallaghers are the most boring performers in the history or rock music?

The second has no such slurs, but I would say it was a more powerful attack.

But I also understand the need for just dismissing something quickly, and shit serves fine without piggy-backing on the oppression of any group.


No is the short answer. But his type of rebuke always requires shock-value and people are continuously inventing new ways to shock as the old ways lose effect. Your desire for a word that is not offensive to someone but can be used to express contempt cannot be met. [You have been challenged.)]

So, the use of 'gay' in this context will not disappear entirely until it is replaced by something equally vile, but different.

Previous to 'gay' the equally ugly 'lame' was used until its shock value wore off. Lame is a reference to disability and the disabled should not be mocked. The Nice police on this site should be in touch with you if you use it inappropriately and you were unknowingly unkind in your youth.

'Dumb' preceded lame, I think. It's effect comes from a belief, now dispelled, that people who could not speak were stupid. The next shock-word will also be offensive, probably to some minority.

  • equally vile??? I think you ought to recalibrate your outrageo-meter, dear. "Lame excuse" for example has been in common use for decades. Any intended slights towards lame people have fallen by the wayside, not least because lame in its original sense is a very small subset of ways people can be handicapped. IMHO, it is best to pick relevant fights rather than trying to impose political correctness onto everyone's vocabulary. Apr 17, 2018 at 6:35
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    @It, I describe what is the case and you see attempted PC. You are completely wrong. I take your point about lame excuse. Can you make a similar defense of dumb?
    – Aethelbald
    Apr 17, 2018 at 17:54
  • I would never use dumb to describe someone who can't speak. Mute fits perfectly well and has none of the unfortunate connotations of dumb which really has gone mainstream to mean stupid and has been that way for decades. Words and their meaning evolve - would you really correct someone you didn't know for saying dumb??? Would you call someone who can't speak dumb and then say Hey, I meant it in the original sense??? Apr 17, 2018 at 23:59
  • "dandy" or "pansy" should not be offensive to any protected group but do question priorities and assertiveness of someone.
    – Tom22
    Apr 22, 2018 at 23:18
  • the fickle airhead "Romeo" would work if more young people knew the character. .. it more means a 'charmer' albeit with a bit of wimpyness ... yet litterary references to a straight white male could be fair game.
    – Tom22
    Apr 22, 2018 at 23:20

Nowadays I think most people will immediately to jump to one of these alternatives, if not using the old-fashioned and homophobia-charged "X is gay":

  • X sucks.
  • X is shit.
  • X is wack.
  • X is weak.
  • X is garbage/trash/some other word of disgust.
  • X is the worst.

These can all be elevated in disgust by using an expletive exclamation. For example:

  • X fuckin' sucks.
  • X is fuckin' shit.

Good old escalating or emphasis terms work, too:

  • X is utter shit.

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