Trying to extricate himself on Mr Key told reporters he was just giving Jamie Mackay a hard time when on Friday he described the radio host’s outfit as “a gay red top”.
Twitter users took it badly, calling Mr Key homophobic and embarrassing.
Asked at his post-cabinet press conference what he thought it meant, Mr Key replied: “Weird, I was just giving him a hard time, young people use it all the time, I don’t think many people would be offended by it but if anyone is, I apologise.
“I’s just a slang term, it’s in the Oxford Dictionary, it doesn’t mean anything offensive.”
Mr Key said he definitely wasn’t homophobic.
“I’m voting for gay marriage, I led the charge on it.”
On the same day he made the remark, Mr Key made global headlines after reportedly telling students at St Hilda’s Collegiate in Dunedin that Beckham was a nice guy but “thick as bats***”.