In a recent interview around a fascinating-looking telephone-hotline documentary, phone psychic and infomercial star Ms. Cleo revealed that she’s not simply gay — “I’m as gay together a 2 dollar bill,” she declared. “Ms. Cleo pertains to Hot Docs: ‘I’m Gay as a two Dollar Bill’” IndieWire, may 1, 2014>

Really? There’s nothing gay, straight, or usually sexual around a $2 bill, as far as I can discern.

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Ms. Cleo offers us a fine instance of the bastardization the the anachronistic expression “queer as a three-dollar bill.” First, some definitions.

“Queer together a three-dollar bill”:

phony together a three-dollar billand queer as a three-dollar bill:
Phony; bogus. (*Also: together ~.) This guy’s as phony as a three-dollar bill.
Go to (as) phony together a three-dollar bill definitely or obviously homosexual. (Usually objectionable.)

Okay, that basically provides sense — in the paper definition of queer meaning “phony” and also three-dollar bill representing nonexistence. Yet at some allude in the past few decades, both parts the the expression changed! What kind of stunner alchemy to be at work?

Although queer had actually been work to median “gay” for quite a while, it shows up to have picked increase mainstream usage only in the last quarter of the twentieth century — the same period in which the $2 invoice was reintroduced right into circulation (1976). Coincidence?

Okay, probably it’s a stretch. But maybe not. As a former linguistics major, I define it as just my armchair attempt to wrap mine head about the sociolinguistic transformation of “three-dollar bill” come “two-dollar bill.” It shows up that within a concentrated duration of time, Americans started using the state queer and also two-dollar bill a lot an ext (even when the $2 bill was shrouded in secret and uncertainty, as it remains).

The mangling the the phrase had one more prominent appearance critical year, as soon as Sherri Shepherd that The View uttered the quote “gayer 보다 a happy two-dollar bill.” Wow. Not simply gayer than a regular ol’ $2 invoice — gayer than a gosh-darn gay $2 bill! “Ken Cuccinelli’s battle on dental Sex,” The Huffington Post, July 23, 2013>

And thus has it been for years that a expression once an interpretation “phony” now way “a delightfully whimsical level of gayness.”

Folks of all stripes whip it out, also those who space otherwise intelligent and educated, such as this acquaintance of mine:

“For a if you can say ‘queer together a two-dollar bill’ because there to be no such thing as a two-dollar bill.”acquaintance, June 19, 2013. Let’s no even go into the factors why this quote is interesting.

Now the I’ve ripped the topic into shreds, some amusement:

Summer 1986, Mackinac Island, Michigan: i remember seeing an unusual item and loudly remarking, “That’s queer!” My parental corrected me; i was told to not use that phrase. (1) my middle-aged parents calling me the end on this (2) in far Michigan (3) in 1986 adds approximately a three-pronged reason for believing the phrase have to have had some legs because that at least a couple of years before that.

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