Fruity – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen the term ‘fruity’ somewhere on social media and want to know what it means? The term means almost the same as the slang term ‘fruit’ always has, but with the online LGBTQ+ taking its meaning back as positive. This post unpacks the origin and meaning of this term.

Meaning

The term ‘fruity’ is used as a word to describe someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community.

While the terms ‘fruit’ and ‘fruity’ were commonly used as pejorative or offensive terms for gay or lesbian people in the 1980s (and in fact much earlier), the modern use of the term is considered mostly positive.

The term ‘fruity’ can refer to almost anything that is part of LGBTQ+ culture.

The most common way to use the term ‘fruity’ is to self-identify with LGBTQ+ culture or sometimes to show support.

This is an example of a previously negative term that was adapted and changed to something with positive meaning by the community itself.

Careful use of the term is necessary as it can still be misunderstood as offensive or used in the wrong context. Related terms like ‘fruitcake’ are still considered to be mostly negative in their general meaning and are not used in the same way.

Example Usage

“What do you think about the new Coco Chanel handbag collection? I like it, I’d say it’s pretty colorful, unusual and fruity.”

“All I want to do with my life is get out of the nine-to-five job, dress up in heels and be a little fruity for the weekend, you know?”

“Madonna has been one of the most important fruity icons that have ever graced the stage. I wonder who will be the next famous fruity one after Madonna has retired her boots.”

“Even though my dad was married to my mother for about twenty years, he made a post on Facebook to say he’s secretly fruity and I don’t know how I should feel about it.”

Origin

The origin of the term ‘fruit’ as an offensive term for gay and lesbian people has been around for several decades, and resources attribute its use to the early 1920s in the United Kingdom.

‘Fruitsellers’ were the general term used for young boys who were selling fruit in the market. These boys were thought to be less masculine than perhaps other men of the time, and they were referred to as ‘fruits’ themselves.

The implication of ‘fruit’ to mean an offensive term for LTBTQ+ people would continue from approximately the 1920s to a resurgence in the 1970s and 1980s.

An inaccurate, supposed test for gay-ness was used by the Canadian military in the 1980s, and was officially referred to as a ‘fruit machine’. The program was quickly scrapped, and the term ‘fruit machine’ now mostly refers to gambling slot machines.

Positive, modern meanings of the words ‘fruit’ and ‘fruity’ is credited to the social media platform TikTok.

Urban Dictionary lists the terms ‘fruit’ and ‘fruity’ in several entries, though earlier entries that include 2019, 2020 and 2021 still give the meaning of ‘fruit’ as a possible insult.

Later entries on Urban Dictionary, including ones from 2021, give the meaning of ‘fruit’ as positive.

One of the first users to popularize the use of the term ‘fruity’ on TikTok is @westbrouck, or a user known as “Matty”.

The term ‘fruity’ can now be seen in discussions, forums, publications and even some brand names that have attributed a positive meaning to the term ‘fruit’.

Phrases Similar to Fruity

  • Queer
  • Gay
  • LGBTQ+

Phrases Opposite to Fruity

  • Straight
  • Vanilla

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Fruity
  • fruity

Ways People May Say Fruity Incorrectly

There are several incorrect ways to use the term ‘fruity’ in a sentence, or as a keyword or hashtag.

The term ‘fruity’ is not (and should never be) used as an insult.

‘Fruity’ is a descriptive word that applies to things of an LGBTQ+ nature.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Fruity

The correct way to use the term ‘fruity’ is as a descriptive word that applies to things of an LGBTQ+ nature. Usually, the term ‘fruity’ is positive in meaning and though it is used to self-identify by the community, it can also be used by people who do not fall into any of the LGBTQ+ categories.

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