Legal Dictionary


Definition of homosexual


    From homo- from Ancient Greek ὁμός (homos), "same") + sexual.


  • Audio (UK) [?]
  • Audio (US) [?]
  • (RP):
    IPA: /ˌhɒməʊˈsɛksjuːəl/, SAMPA: /%hQm@U"sEksju:@l/
    IPA: /ˌhɒməʊˈsɛkʃuːəl/, SAMPA: /%hQməU"sEkSu:@l/
    IPA: /ˌhəʊməʊˈsɛksjuːəl/, SAMPA: /%h@Um@U"sEksju:@l/
    IPA: /ˌhəʊməʊˈsɛkʃuːəl/, SAMPA: /%hoUməU"sEkSu:@l/
  • (US):
    IPA: /ˌhoʊməˈsɛkʃuːəl/, SAMPA: /%hoUm@"sEkSu:@l/
    IPA: /ˌhoʊmoʊˈsɛkʃuːəl/, SAMPA: /%hoUmoU"sEkSu:@l/


homosexual (comparative more homosexual, superlative most homosexual)

  1. (of a person or animal) Sexually attracted solely or primarily to other members of the same sex.

    * 1983: Michael W. Ross, Homosexuality and Social Sex Roles
    "Significant results indicate that Swedes would choose a more masculine partner the more homosexual they are, and that Finns would choose a more attractive partner the more homosexual they are."

  2. Pertaining to homosexuality, as a relationship, an attraction, a desire, etc.
  3. Intended for or used by homosexuals, as a nightclub, a bar, etc.

Usage notes

  • Many homosexual people prefer to be referred to by the adjective (and noun) gay.
  • Many female homosexuals prefer to be referred to as lesbians.
  • Many people now avoid using the term homosexual because of the emphasis this term places on sexuality. Indeed, the words gay and lesbian, which stress cultural and social matters over sex, are frequently better choices. Homosexual is most objectionable when used as a noun; here "gay man" and either "gay woman" or "lesbian" and their plural forms are called for. It is generally unobjectionable when used adjectivally, as in "a homosexual relationship", although "gay", "lesbian", or "same-sex" are also available for adjectival use.
  • Pronunciation: The word "homosexual" derives from the Greek word for "same", which is traditionally pronounced /ˈhɒməʊ/, /"hQm@U/ in words derived from it, rather than the Latin word homo ("man"), which is pronounced /ˈhɒməʊ/, /"hQməU/ (RP) in English words derived from it. Hence the etymology indicates that the appropriate pronunciation of the vowel in the first syllable is /ɒ/, /Q/, but the pronunciation with the long vowel /əʊ/, /@U/ in this position is much more commonly heard, and is the only correct pronunciation of the shortened form homo.
  • Because of the similarity of homo- to the Latin word for man, the term homosexual is sometimes interpreted as meaning "sexually attracted solely or primarily to [other] men".


  • (sexually attracted solely or primarily to the same sex): gay, lesbian (used only of women)
  • (involving or relating to homosexuals): gay, lesbian (used only of women), same-sex
  • (intended for or used by homosexuals): gay, lesbian (used only of women)


  • (sexually attracted solely or primarily to the same sex): heterosexual, straight
  • (involving or relating to homosexuals): heterosexual, mixed-sex, other-sex
  • (intended for or used by homosexuals): heterosexual, straight


homosexual (plural homosexuals)

  1. A person who is attracted solely or primarily to others of the same sex.

Usage notes

  • Female homosexuals are also known as lesbians, a term preferred by many of them. As homosexual applies to people of either sex, the expression homosexuals and lesbians is a pleonasm and is best replaced by "homosexuals" or "lesbians" alone as appropriate, or "gay people" (see also the usage notes for the adjective, and for gay).


  • This section is divided into two tables, one containing synonyms that generally are not derogatory and one containing those that generally are. However, note that the non-derogatory terms can nonetheless be used derogatorily, and that some of the derogatory ones are often used humorously and non-derogatorily by gays and allies. non-derogatory synonyms

of either sex

  • gay (but see usage notes at gay)
  • invert (dated psychological term)

only of men

  • company man

only of women

  • lesbian
  • sapphist


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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