Findings for “faggot+” in the General Corpus

Using “faggot+” as query term in AntConc, the relevant examples clearly show that the terms are used as derogatory slurs. In terms of absolute numbers, this use of the word is the overwhelming majority. In these instances, the term is applied to both actual homosexuals and people perceived as such.

  • He answered a flurry of telephone calls, some from opponents. “Nothing really threatening, just nastiness,” Mr. Longstaff said. “They say, ‘Faggot, go home.’ [1]
  • Those, he said, were the kids who beat him up, broke his ribs and jaw and called him a faggot when he took ballet lessons at age 13.[2]
  • […]a guy, very calmly, threw a piece of granite through the wall. Three months later, the same guy came back, walked into the store muttering, ‘I’m gonna kill all you faggots.’[3]

Interestingly, in two very relevant cases, collocates of ‘faggot’ show instances where that homosexuals also used this term to describe either themselves or other homosexuals. The values of these collocations are given below.

Collocate Freq Freq L Freq R Stat
queer 2 1 1 12.33
homosexuals 2 1 1 8.41


In the process of language-reclaiming, members of a subculture or a minority will appropriate and use terms that are also, and usually more commonly, used as derogatory insults or slurs. For the collocations of ‘faggot’ and ‘queer’, we see this:

  • According to one listener, D. described the gay community as “faggots and queers,” and linked them to the bombing of the Capitol on Monday night.[4]

But also, this:

  • While some expressed their gay pride with buttons and T-shirts that ranged from “Faggot” and “Queer” to the more low-key, “I’m One Too,” Ed Murphy, 58, of New York City wore a sash that declared him to be “An Original Stonewaller.”[5]

For the collocations of ‘faggot and ‘homosexuals’, we see:

  • Again, Williams denied being a homosexual, or hating them, a partial motive police have suggested for the murders, even though he testified today that he referred to homosexuals as “Hostess cupcakes, gays, faggots and Twinkies.”[6]

But also this:

  • “Well,”said David Goff, a [Gay Men’s] chorus member, “there are faggots who give homosexuals a bad name, and there are preachers who give religion a bad name.[7]

While the examples (4) and (6) clearly reinforce the notion that ‘faggot’ is a slur for homosexual people, (5) and, to a lesser extent, (7), point towards a possible reclaiming strategy. However, the fact that most examples of the use of ‘faggot(s)’ are harsh and homophobe utterances indicate that either the reclaiming of faggot was either a rather new or an unsuccessful instance of this type of discursive strategy. ‘Faggot’, in these instances, remains a strongly negative term applied to actual or supposed homosexuals, even more so than ‘fag’.

[1] Homosexual, a. U.S. Resident 19 Years, Faces Deportation.” New York Times 3 June 1984: 1-1-40. Print.

[2] Hill, Michael E. Washington Post 3 Nov. 1985: TV Tab 10. Print.

[3] Wadler, Joyce. “No, Dorothy, You and Toto Certainly Aren’t in Kansas Anymore.” Washington Post 1 Aug. 1982: 1 A2. Print.

[4] Trescott, Jacqueline. Washington Post 10 Nov. 1983: Style C1. Print.

[5] Perl, Peter. “15,000 Parade, Picnic and Politick on Gay Pride Day.” Washington Post 21 June 1982: Metro B1. Print.

[6] Harris, Art. “Williams Sticks to His Version of Events on the Chattahoochee.” Washington Post 24 Feb. 1982: 1 A6. Print.

[7] Darling, Lynn. Washington Post 19 June 1981: Style C1. Print.


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