camp

Definitions

General English

Food

  • noun
    (written as cAMP)
    a derivative of adenosine triphosphate that plays an important role in glycogenolysis and lipolysis.

Media Studies

  • adjective referring to the intentionally theatrical, often effeminate behaviour supposedly characteristic of homosexual men

Military

  • noun a place where people are accommodated in temporary shelter (such as tents)

Slang

  • adjective homosexual, effeminate or affectedly theatrical in manner, gesture, speech, etc. A word which emerged from theatrical slang into general use in the 1960s. The sense of the term has moved from the specific (a (male) homosexual) to the general (affected, exaggerated, parodic). The word was adopted by the theatrical world some time after World War I from London slang, but the ultimate derivation of the adjective is obscure. It may come from the french camper, meaning to portray or pose, or from the dialect term kemp, meaning uncouth. In the late 1970s the gay phrase ‘as camp as a row of tents’, referring to a person who is outrageously or blatantly camp, crossed over into general usage. The word ‘camp’ was adopted in Australia and the USA before World War II.
  • verb to behave in a camp way, using exaggerated, ‘effeminate’ gestures, speech mannerisms, etc. The phrase ‘camp it up’ is particularly used to indicate a scene-stealing or outrageous piece of theatrics (literal or figurative) without necessarily any sexual overtones

Travel

Origin & History of “camp”

Latin campus meant ‘open field’. It branched out into various more specialized meanings. One of them, e.g., was ‘battle field’: this was borrowed into the Germanic languages as ‘battle’ (German has kampf, for instance, as in the title of Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf ‘My struggle’). Another was ‘place for military exercises’, and this seems to have developed, in the word’s passage via Italian campo and French camp, to ‘place where troops are housed’. English got the word from French.

Camp ‘mannered, effeminate’ (20th c.) is presumably a different word, but its origins are obscure.

Latin campus itself was adopted in English in the 18th century for the ‘grounds of a college’. It was originally applied to Princeton university in the USA.
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