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Camp

A discussion of word histories and origins.

Camp

Postby Maximillian » Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:27 pm

Wondering what the etymology is for this word. Not camp as in tent and fire in some wilderness setting but camp as in Blankety Blanks or the Batman and Robin tv serials of the 1960s.
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Postby KatyBr » Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:56 pm

ah, Campy it's a term of mild derision often used by vapid arty types from the 1960's who used it so often, not realizing they were the epitomie of camp.
camp, campy
providing sophisticated amusement by virtue of having artificially (and vulgarly) mannered or banal or sentimental qualities; "they played up the silliness of their roles for camp effect"; "campy Hollywood musicals of the 1940's"




tasteless, in poor taste(p) — lacking aesthetic or social taste
and here's more


Main Entry: 3camp
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
1 : exaggerated effeminate mannerisms exhibited especially by homosexuals
2 : a homosexual displaying camp
3 : something so outrageously artificial, affected, inappropriate, or out-of-date as to be considered amusing
4 : something self-consciously exaggerated or theatrical
- camp·i·ly /'kam-p&-lE/ adverb
- camp·i·ness /-pE-n&s/ noun
- campy /'kam-pE/ adjective Merriam-Webster


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Postby tcward » Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:49 am

Wow, Katy, I've never heard "camp" used as in def. 1 or 2 before. It's always a weird feeling when that happens, like there's this whole world of people saying things a certain way and I'm missing out entirely on it... I'm going to be so lost by the time I'm 60.

From EtymOnline.com:

camp (2)
"tasteless," 1909, homosexual slang, perhaps from mid-17c. Fr. camper "to portray, pose" (as in se camper "put oneself in a bold, provocative pose"); popularized 1964 by Susan Sontag's essay "Notes on Camp."


Suddenly, I'm remembering Madonna's song, Vogue... :lol:

-Tim
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Postby Garzo » Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:28 am

Actually, you have to try very hard in British English not to make the word camp be a referrence to male homosexuality. To say that someone was not camp implies that he is gay but doesn't act it; to say that someone is camp implies that he acts as if he's gay, but may or may not be so.

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"Poetry is that which gets lost in translation" — Robert Frost
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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:54 am

was not camp implies that he is gay

Like in:

Did you see that bloke? His wife divorced him after she found out he was not camp.
:?: :?

So, does that mean that he is camp now, which means that he may be gay or not, although he acts like one.

More :?

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Languages rule!
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Postby KatyBr » Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:55 pm

a campy person then is a poser? poseur? NOT a thing anyone wants to be called.

Poseur
Noun 1. poseur - a person who habitually pretends to be something he is not
poser
show-off, exhibitionist - someone who deliberately behaves in such a way as to attract attention
poseuse - a woman poseur


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Postby anders » Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:17 am

A Swedish site refers to Susan Sontag, and explains the word (still in the English spelling) as meaning originally something ludicrous or hopelessly outdated, and that it nowadays refers to things oldfashioned, or at least not modern, but anyway acceptable, perhaps even bordering on trendy.
Irren ist männlich
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Postby Garzo » Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:14 pm

I think BD managed to drive a coach and horses through my definition: thanks, Dude. Camp usually means in British English that a man exhibits obviously homosexual mannerisms. Of course, such mannerisms are as much part of the sub-culture as anything else. Thus, someone who might be considered to be a straight-acting gay man might be referred to as being not camp. Generally, a straight (sexually) man would not be described as being not camp, because he is not expected to be. However, a man described as camp exhibits such socially defined mannerisms, but may or may not be homosexual.

NB. Caravan-site is not the equivalent term among English lesbians or Lebanese angels.
"Poetry is that which gets lost in translation" — Robert Frost
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Postby KatyBr » Fri Jul 29, 2005 4:53 pm

acting campy is also called Swish... well it was in Washington state a few years ago anyway.....

Katy
affectedly gay that is...
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Postby Maximillian » Thu Aug 04, 2005 1:01 am

Thanks for all the replies guys. Tim I had heard that se camper idea before. That seems to be the most popular theory I think.
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Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Aug 04, 2005 4:48 am

An etymology can be found here. It says first used in print in 1909.
Someone else said it is from "Known As Male Prostitute" but that sounds too camp by a half. (That is to say, a back formation).
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Postby Maximillian » Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:44 pm

A word I often use instead of camp is kitsch. Looking at the definition though there may be a slight difference in meaning in that camp may encompass something above and beyond kitsch.
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