1630s, "itching," later, and now exclusively, "having an itching desire for something" (1650s), especially "lascivious, inclined to lewd thoughts," (1746), from Latin prurientem (nominative pruriens), present participle of prurire "to itch; to long for, be wanton," which is perhaps related to pruna "glowing coals" (from PIE root *preus- "to freeze; to burn;" see freeze (v.)).
De Vaan suggests a source in PIE *preus-i-, *prus-no-"(cold and) wet; itching," source also of Welsh rhew, Breton rev, reo "frost," Sanskrit prushnuvanti "to (be)sprinkle, wet," and writes that "The meaning 'to be wet, itch' was metaphorically also applied to high temperatures, hence 'burning' in pruna." But it needn't be metaphorical: Cold damage to skin is called ice burn and the paradoxical sensation of burning when the skin contacts an extreme cold surface has long been noted. Related: Pruriently.
1762, "one who bounces," agent noun from bounce (v.), which originally meant "to thump, hit." Given various specific senses in 19c., such as "boaster, bully, braggart" (1833); also "large example of its kind" (1842); "enforcer of order in a bar or saloon" (1865, American English, originally colloquial).
Now it so happened that the brakeman was what is known, in the language of the road, as a "bouncer." That is, he was a hybrid combining the qualities of a brakeman and a bruiser, and was frequently called into requisition by the conductor to take the dirty work of ejecting tramps off of his hands. ["Staats," "A Tight Squeeze," 1879]
"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! [London Daily News, July 26, 1883]
c. 1200, "in life, living," contraction of Old English on life "in living, not dead," from a- (1) + dative of lif "life" (see life). The full form on live was still current 17c. Of abstract things (love, lawsuits, etc.) "in a state of operation, unextinguished," c. 1600. From 1709 as "active, lively;" 1732 as "attentive, open" (usually with to). Used emphatically, especially with man (n.); as in:
[A]bout a thousand gentlemen having bought his almanacks for this year, merely to find what he said against me, at every line they read they would lift up their eyes, and cry out betwixt rage and laughter, "they were sure no man alive ever writ such damned stuff as this." [Jonathan Swift, "Bickerstaff's Vindication," 1709]
Thus it was abstracted as an expletive, man alive! (1845). Alive and kicking "alert, vigorous," attested from 1823; Farmer says "The allusion is to a child in the womb after quickening," but kicking in the sense "lively and active" is recorded from 1550s (e.g. "the wanton or kicking flesh of yong maydes," "Lives of Women Saints," c. 1610).
"professional male escort or dancing partner, young man supported financially by an older woman in exchange for his attentions," 1922, from French gigolo, formed as a masc. of gigole "tall, thin woman; dancing girl; prostitute," perhaps from verb gigoter "to move the shanks, hop," from gigue "shank" (12c.), also "fiddle," Old French giga from Frankish *giga- or some other Germanic word (compare German Geige "fiddle"). This is perhaps the same word that was borrowed earlier as Middle English giglot (early 14c.) "lewd, wanton girl," which was later applied to males (mid-15c.) with the sense "villainous man." It is perhaps related to a number of words in Germanic meaning "dance, gambol," and "fiddle," perhaps connected by the notion of "rapid, whirling motion" (see gig (n.1)). Middle English gigletry meant "lasciviousness, harlotry" (late 14c.).
Naturally, no decent French girl would have been allowed for a single moment to dance with a gigolo. But America, touring Europe like mad after years of enforced absence, outnumbered all other nations atravel ten to one. [Edna Ferber, "Gigolo," 1922]
Old English gat "she-goat," from Proto-Germanic *gaito (source also of Old Saxon get, Old Norse geit, Danish gjed, Middle Dutch gheet, Dutch geit, Old High German geiz, German Geiß, Gothic gaits "goat"), from PIE *ghaid-o- "young goat," also forming words for "to play" (source also of Latin hædus "kid").
They are sprightly, capricious, and wanton, and their strong odor (technically called hircine) is proverbial. [Century Dictionary]
The word for "male goat" in Old English was bucca or gatbucca (see buck (n.)) until late 1300s shift to he-goat, she-goat (Nanny goat is 18c., billy goat 19c.). Meaning "licentious man" is attested from 1670s (hence goat-milker, name of a bird formerly believed to suck the milk from goats at night, but also old slang for "a prostitute," also "the female pudendum"). To get (someone's) goat is by 1908, American English, the source of many fanciful explanation stories; perhaps from French prendre sa chèvre "take one's source of milk," or more likely it is "to steal a goat mascot" from a racehorse, warship, fire company, military unit, etc.
... to become separated from your goat is a thing no soldierman is willing to contemplate. ["Letitia, Nursery Corps, U.S.A.," in American Magazine, vol. lxiv, June 1907]
"person having red hair," mid-13c. (1256 as a surname), from red (adj.1) + head (n.). Red (adj.), of persons, "having red hair" is from late Old English. Both Cain and Judas formerly were reputed to have had red or reddish-yellow beards.
The Carrot pate be sure you hate, for she'l be true to no man,
But put her too 't and she will do 't, and oft turns very common:
She that is red upon the head will doubtless ne'r forsake it,
But wanton be, assuredly, and willingly will take it.
["The True Lover's Admonition," Roxburghe Ballads, c. 1680]
Traditional ideas about red-haired people are not complimentary. Physically, they are said to sweat easily, bleed copiously, have a strong foxy smell, and such bad breath that they can raise blisters on other people simply by breathing over them. Morally, they are expected to be 'bad children' who cause nothing but trouble; they will be hot-tempered, treacherous, and highly sexed. The medieval notion that Judas, Cain, and Mary Magdalene were red-heads arose from these beliefs, and helped to perpetuate them. ["Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore," 2000]
As an adjective, "having red hair," from 1660s. Red-headed is attested from 1660s; red-haired from c. 1500.
late 14c., "full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree;" also "wanton, lewd, lascivious" (late 12c. as a surname, Philippus de Gay), from Old French gai "joyful, happy; pleasant, agreeably charming; forward, pert; light-colored" (12c.; compare Old Spanish gayo, Portuguese gaio, Italian gajo, probably French loan-words). Ultimate origin disputed; perhaps from Frankish *gahi (related to Old High German wahi "pretty"), though not all etymologists accept this.
Meaning "stately and beautiful; splendid and showily dressed" is from early 14c. Of things, "sumptuous, showy, rich, ornate," mid-14c. of colors, etc., "shining, glittering, gleaming, bright, vivid," late 14c.; of persons, "dressed up, decked out in finery," late 14c.
In the English of Yorkshire and Scotland formerly it could mean "moderately, rather, considerable" (1796; compare sense development in pretty (adj.)).
The word gay by the 1890s had an overall tinge of promiscuity -- a gay house was a brothel. The suggestion of immorality in the word can be traced back at least to the 1630s, if not to Chaucer:
But in oure bed he was so fressh and gay
Whan that he wolde han my bele chose.
Slang meaning "homosexual" (adj.) begins to appear in psychological writing late 1940s, evidently picked up from gay slang and not always easily distinguished from the older sense:
After discharge A.Z. lived for some time at home. He was not happy at the farm and went to a Western city where he associated with a homosexual crowd, being "gay," and wearing female clothes and makeup. He always wished others would make advances to him. [Rorschach Research Exchange and Journal of Projective Techniques, 1947, p.240]
The association with (male) homosexuality likely got a boost from the term gay cat, used as far back as 1893 in American English for "young hobo," one who is new on the road, also one who sometimes does jobs.
"A Gay Cat," said he, "is a loafing laborer, who works maybe a week, gets his wages and vagabonds about hunting for another 'pick and shovel' job. Do you want to know where they got their monica (nickname) 'Gay Cat'? See, Kid, cats sneak about and scratch immediately after chumming with you and then get gay (fresh). That's why we call them 'Gay Cats'." [Leon Ray Livingston ("America's Most Celebrated Tramp"), "Life and Adventures of A-no. 1," 1910]
Quoting a tramp named Frenchy, who might not have known the origin. Gay cats were severely and cruelly abused by "real" tramps and bums, who considered them "an inferior order of beings who begs of and otherwise preys upon the bum -- as it were a jackal following up the king of beasts" [Prof. John J. McCook, "Tramps," in "The Public Treatment of Pauperism," 1893], but some accounts report certain older tramps would dominate a gay cat and employ him as a sort of slave. In "Sociology and Social Research" (1932-33) a paragraph on the "gay cat" phenomenon notes, "Homosexual practices are more common than rare in this group," and gey cat "homosexual boy" is attested in Noel Erskine's 1933 dictionary of "Underworld & Prison Slang" (gey is a Scottish variant of gay).
The "Dictionary of American Slang" reports that gay (adj.) was used by homosexuals, among themselves, in this sense at least since 1920. Rawson ["Wicked Words"] notes a male prostitute using gay in reference to male homosexuals (but also to female prostitutes) in London's notorious Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889. Ayto ["20th Century Words"] calls attention to the ambiguous use of the word in the 1868 song "The Gay Young Clerk in the Dry Goods Store," by U.S. female impersonator Will S. Hays, but the word evidently was not popularly felt in this sense by wider society until the 1950s at the earliest.
"Gay" (or "gai") is now widely used in French, Dutch, Danish, Japanese, Swedish, and Catalan with the same sense as the English. It is coming into use in Germany and among the English-speaking upper classes of many cosmopolitan areas in other countries. [John Boswell, "Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality," 1980]
As a teen slang word meaning "bad, inferior, undesirable," without reference to sexuality, from 2000.