camp it up , in gay parlance, to mimick or exaggerate feminine gestures, behaviors, conversational styles and emotions, usually for the entertainment of others.
Etymology: Dates back to 16 th century England when women were forbidden on the stage and female roles were played by young men wearing women's costumes; this was known as camping. The term was borrowed from the French campagne , the countryside, where strolling players entertained. In the early 1900s, camp referred to acting or gesturing in an exaggerated manner; by the 1920s the homosexual connotation was added to the meaning; by 1930 the notion of effeminate was implied.
Antonyms: butch it up; clean up; clean it up.
See also: dazzle the audience.
(1) Robert T. Francoeur. The Complete Dictionary of Sexology : ' A complex set of gay affectations in dress, personal manner, style, language, and humor, all marked by exaggeration, insult, extravagance, and a satiric sense of the ludicrous and the artificiality of social convention, both gay and straight. In some large urban settings, camp is a life-style enjoyed for its fast-paced sophistication by both gay and nongay individuals.'
(2) Susan Sontag. Notes on Camp (1964): ' The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance.'
(3) Bruce Rodgers. The Queens' Vernacular (1972): ' Camp is burlesque, fun, an ability to poke a jocular finger at one's own frustrations and guffaw at the struggles of other pathetics, homosexuals or famous, influential people.'
(4) Julia P. Stanley and Susan J. Wolfe, Sexist Slang and the Gay Community. Are You One, Too? (1979): ' These responses clearly indicate that most of what is usually regarded as "gay slang" consists of quite ordinary (and derogatory) terms for women. We would like to suggest that gay males use these terms among themselves for the same reasons straight males coined them, as a way of verbally trivializing and abusing women. That such terms occur frequently in camp exchanges is not surprising, since camp humor depends upon the put-down, in which one human being gains status by belittling another. Specifically, the essence of camp is derived from the pejorative terms for women that appear in camp phraseology. (...) To perpetuate these words as "gay slang" is to endorse the politics of patriarchy.'
3. Characteristic of male homosexuals. Camp words; camp greetings.
4. A gathering place for homosexual males.
5. In a stereotypically in a feminine way.