Our Lesbian Same-Sex Articles
Butch, Dyke, Femme or Lipstick Lesbian?
What Do They Mean and Where Do they Come From?
I've been caught out myself quite a few times.
I've been hanging out with a group of lesbian friends in a bar, catching
up on gossip and the latest on off relationships (much like the L Word),
when someone surprises me with a term where I just haven't got a clue what
they are on about! I used to nod my head in failing agreement trying to hide
the fact that I haven't got the slightest inkling whether Jane who lives
down the street is a Dieseldyke, or not!
It got to the point where I was too afraid to
say much in case I made a fool of myself - so, instead of vegging out in
front of the TV, I hit the web by storm and researched all the lesbian terms
I possibly could so I would never fall into the same trap again. Now I consider
myself to be pretty much on par with everyone else, but I thought I would
make it easier for you womyn out there who aren't quite up to scratch by
publishing it all right here!
So here it is - my lesbian terms dictionary.
I've even thrown in some of the origins of words so you can look extra clued
up next time your buddies go out for coffee. I haven't organized it
alphabetically, but in groups of terms that have similar meanings.
Women Who Love Women
Definition: Old fashioned term describing
two unmarried women who shared a house together.
Origins: This originates from the nineteenth
century when it was acceptable for two unmarried women to share a house together.
It is hard to say how many of these women were lesbians!
Definition: A gay woman. This is often
shortened to les or lesbo.
Origins: This term was originally used
for natives of the Greek island of Lesbos. An ancient poet called Sappho
lived here and wrote many love sonnets to women or describing same sex
relationships. It was first used as a term to describe a gay woman in the
Definition: Another term for lesbianism
Origins: Direct origination from the
poet Sappho who wrote love sonnets to and about women.
Masculine Vs Feminine
Definition: Used to describe a lesbian
who is masculine in appearance and outlook. Often relates to the way she
dresses, the hairstyle, the shoes she wears etc.
Origins: There are conflicting stories
as to where this term originated from. Some say it comes from 1930's America
from Butch, a strong and popular man's name of that time. Others believe
it stems from the 1950's when both in the UK and USA working class lesbian
couples dressed as one masculine and one feminine, whilst the middle class
preferred to hide behind their feminine demeanor. Another important influence
on Butch lesbians comes from the same period in lesbian bars where you were
forced to dress Butch or Femme. Such distinction in dress is not as apparent
nowadays but when you know someone that prefers power tools to cookery and
dresses in comfy men's clothes then she's probably a Butch at heart.
Definition: Another term for butch.
Origins: This may have originated from
the Celtic language, or possibly from the slang word dike used in the nineteenth
century which means male clothing. This term is widely accepted in lesbian
circles but if a straight person were to call you a dyke this is thought
to be offensive!
Definition: Incredibly masculine lesbian.
Origins: This supports the theory that
dyke originates from the Celtic language as Queen Boudicca was around at
the time and she was known for being an incredibly powerful woman.
Definition: Once again this term means
incredibly masculine lesbian, particularly those that drive heavy equipment
Origins: Good old 1990's slang!
Definition: A lesbian that appears hard
and masculine on the outside but has a soft heart! This is a relatively new
Definition: A young lesbian that's coming
Definition: A lesbian who dresses in
a feminine nature and has a feminine manner. Femmes are said to prefer skirts,
flouncy clothes, makeup, and spending inconceivable amounts on their hair.
They are the opposites of Butch.
Origins: This originates from the same
time as Butch became popular in the 1950's where lesbians were forced to
choose which way they would dress in bars, or the working class lesbian couples
chose to dress that way.
Definition: Another term for Femme. However
it can also mean feminine women who are attracted to other feminine women.
It's also used to describe women who pretend to be lesbians, just for personal
gains. For example, where would the porn industry be without all those women
who have sex with other women just for the money!
Origins: This is a slang term introduced
in the late 1990's.
Definition: A lesbian who is neither
masculine nor feminine in appearance or behavior. Universally known as Unisex.
Definition: Another term for Androgynous
Origins: Introduced in the late 1990's
to take on all those lipstick lesbians out there!
So there it is; my guide to lesbian terms. Short
and simple, I know, but this should certainly keep you up with the rest of
the pack. I often think, though, that many of the terms - such as Butch and
Femme - relate to what the person is, or appears to be on the outside. All
I can say is that I know some women that appear Butch on the outside but
are as feminine, and soft, and flouncy, on the inside as any Femmes out there.
Maybe some day these terms will evolve to describe personality, and emotions,
but for now let's just be satisfied that we finally understand what everyone's
harping on about!
following is a poem taken from our eBook,
Big eBook of Gay and Lesbian
Poetry. It speaks for
Coming Out = in your face
Hiding in the closet = in disgrace
Lipstick lesbo, short skirt, polished
Butch bitch with strap on if all else
Femme filly preening wind swept hair.
Bisexual babe; boy; girl; or pair?
Wannabe les trying to speak the lingo,
Baby dyke in denial with her mum at bingo
Dieseldyke out riding her Harley,
Androgyny the chosen path for Carly
We don't label them so why do they care?
Will being a lesbian ever be fair?