College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Modern Languages


slang, Spanish, lesbian, LGBTQIA+, gender


This research project studies the speech of the lesbian community in the United States in English and Spanish. An anonymous online survey was used to collect demographic data and knowledge of English and Spanish lesbian slang terminology, and is analyzed to determine relationships between demographic characteristics and linguistic knowledge. Selected English lesbian slang words are pertinent to the lesbian community as determined by past studies on LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and other) lexicon, slang dictionaries, and popular web sources.

The first goal of this research was to examine the relationship between demographic characteristics, such as sexual orientation, and knowledge of English slang terms from the lesbian subdialect within the context of the U.S. Two of the strongest predictors of knowledge of lesbian slang terms were being a member of the lesbian community as defined by sexual orientation and gender, and being affiliated with the lesbian community as defined by regularly spending time with women who are not heterosexual. As age increased, knowledge of older terms increased, and knowledge of newer terms decreased. When considered individually, knowledge of terms increased for respondents who identified as other gender (i.e. genderqueer, agender, non-binary, gender fluid, trans), as well as those who identified sexual orientation as not exclusively heterosexual.

The second goal is to determine whether there is a lesbian subdialect that exists in Spanish in the U.S. and if so, to compile a list of those slang terms in Spanish. Among all of the Spanish lesbian slang terms that were provided by respondents, the most frequently cited were bollera, tortillera, marimacho/a, macho/a, papi, femenina, and hombruna.