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Why are homosexual men sometimes called fags?

June 16th, 2008

Topic of the day for me to be honest. How come the word fags mean homosexual. I was in India last year and not many people know what fags mean, but looking back here in Canada almost everyone knows and people around USA too, so I was wondering how come the word fags means Homosexual. It took me few hours to research but I found a good answer from a book lying around.

“Faggot,” the cruel label for homosexuals, actually began as a contemptuous slang word for a woman, especially one who was old and unpleasant. The reference was to a burden that had to be carried in the same manner as baggage and harks back to the word’s original meaning.

In the thirteenth century, a faggot was a bundle of wood or twigs bound together, such as the ones carried by heretics to feed the fires that would burn them at the stake. Heretics who recanted were required to wear an embroidered figure of a faggot on their sleeves. It wasn’t until 1914 that the slang word faggot first appeared in the United States as a reference to a male homosexual, probably derived from the earlier reference to an annoying woman. The abbreviation fag surfaced in 1921.

There is a misconception that male homosexuals were called faggots because they were burned at the stake, but this notion is an urban legend. Homosexuals were sometimes burned alive in Europe, but by the time England made homosexuality a capital offence in 1533, hanging was the prescribed punishement.

The Yiddish word for male homosexual is faygele, which literally means “little bird.”

The English word faggot is derived from the Latin fasces via the French fagot, meaning “a bundle of wood.”

And there you go answer to one of the puzzling questions….

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