"Goth" or "Gothic" refers to many things.
1) (Original meaning) The Goths were a tribe of what we would now call Germans, who, despite the Romans' constant efforts to steal their land, pwned Rome old-school back in the day; this led to the fall of the Roman empire. They were known for having beards, thus the term "barbarian" (as "barbarus" is Latin for beard). They were also known to be "uncivilized;" for example, they did not have walls, and had no significant military technology or battle strategy, yet often crushed the Romans with vicious charging attacks.
2)An angular and high-ceilinged style of architecture (known as "gothic") created during the Middle Ages which was derided as "gothic" in the sense of "barbaric" by pretentious Renaissance types who had bad taste in architecture. Most remaining gothic buildings are churches.
3)Goth is a subculture consisting of people known as "goths."
4)A Goth is a member of the above-mentioned subculture, who often (though not necessarily always) wears Goth clothing and may or may not listen to Goth music. Goths are generally atheists, often intellectual, and for the most part are not interested in mainstream music or mainstream values (such as materialism). Goth clothing is all generally black, but other than this Goth fashion varies. It generally does not include things such as t-shirts, sneakers or shorts, and can include any of the following:
-large black boots
-Victorian-style dresses (usually black)
-black eye makeup
-studded or spiked belts
-various accesories involved in BDSM
5)Goth is a broad term for types of music, which though having no very specific definition (as practically no one calls their music "Goth music"), are generally rock which resembles metal (in both sound and instrumentation) and sometimes industrial rock (e.g. Nine Inch Nails). It tends to be dark both musically and thematically, particularly in relation to mainstream pop music. The main difference between Goth music and metal is that Goths listen to and play Goth music and metalheads listen to metal and often dislike Goths. Also, Goth music is less likely to have guitar solos and more likely to have female vocalists. Some music is however referred to as Goth metal, e.g. Lacuna Coil and Type O Negative.
Marilyn Manson's music can be referred to as Goth, but then, many people would consider that statement personally insulting. The band Evanescence is also sometimes called Goth, but many Goths also find this claim insulting due to a perceived similarity between and Evanescence and a nu-metal band called Linkin Park, whose music is complete shit.
6)"Goth" can be used as an insult by fools, much in the same way that punk is used by douches as an insult to people who openly call themselves punks.
"Why would anyone love a punked-out Goth freak?" -Britney Spears, referring to Amy Lee of Evanescence
"That building is so flagrantly Gothic! Well, I never! Architecture has just gone downhill since the Romans, don't you agree, Jeeves?"
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