from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Deviating from what is expected or normal; strange.
  • adjective Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric.
  • adjective Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious.
  • adjective Offensive Slang Gay or lesbian.
  • adjective Usage Problem Of or relating to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender people.
  • adjective Feeling slightly ill, as in being dizzy or queasy.
  • noun Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a gay man or a lesbian.
  • noun Usage Problem A lesbian, gay male, bisexual, or transgender person.
  • transitive verb To ruin or thwart.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To banter; ridicule; deride.
  • To puzzle.
  • noun An obsolete form of quire.
  • noun One of the joints or division-planes of queery rock.
  • To put wrong (unexpectedly); throw out of its proper status or working; ruin the success of; render useless by interference or infelicitous aid.
  • Appearing, behaving, or feeling otherwise than is usual or normal; odd; singular; droll; whimsical; quaint.
  • Open to suspicion; doubtful in point of honesty.
  • Counterfeit; worthless.
  • Having a sensation of sudden or impending illness; sick or languid.
  • Synonyms Strange, Odd, etc. (see eccentric), curious, extraordinary, unique, fantastic.
  • noun Counterfeit money; “green goods.”

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb Prov. Eng. or Slang To puzzle.
  • transitive verb Slang To ridicule; to banter; to rally.
  • transitive verb Slang To spoil the effect or success of, as by ridicule; to throw a wet blanket on; to spoil.
  • adjective At variance with what is usual or normal; differing in some odd way from what is ordinary; odd; singular; strange; whimsical.
  • adjective colloq. Mysterious; suspicious; questionable.
  • adjective disparaging and offensive homosexual.
  • noun Slang Counterfeit money.
  • noun disparaging and offensive a homosexual.
  • noun [Slang] to put counterfeit money in circulation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective weird, odd or different.
  • adjective slightly unwell (mainly in to feel queer).
  • adjective slang homosexual.
  • adjective slang having to do with homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism etc.
  • noun colloquial A person who is or appears homosexual, or who has homosexual qualities.
  • noun colloquial A person of atypical sexuality or sexual identity.
  • noun colloquial, vulgar, derogatory General term of abuse, casting aspersions on target's sexuality; compare gay.
  • noun definite, informal Counterfeit money.
  • verb To render an endeavor or agreement ineffective or null.
  • verb To reevaluate or reinterpret a work with an eye to sexual orientation and/or to gender, as by applying queer theory.
  • adverb queerly

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective homosexual or arousing homosexual desires
  • noun offensive term for an openly homosexual man
  • verb put in a dangerous, disadvantageous, or difficult position
  • adjective beyond or deviating from the usual or expected
  • verb hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Perhaps from Low German, oblique, off-center, from Middle Low German dwer; see terkw- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Scots, perhaps from Middle Low German (Brunswick dialect) queer ("oblique, off-center"), related to German quer ("diagonally"), from Old High German twerh ("oblique"), from Proto-Indo-European *twerk- (“to turn, twist, wind”). Related to thwart.


The word queer has been adopted by Queer We Are.

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  • How queer theory does so can be seen by looking at the term ˜queer™ itself.

    Homosexuality Pickett, Brent 2006

  • For example, queer theorists usually argue that one of the advantages of the term ˜queer™ is that it thereby includes transsexuals, sado-masochists, and other marginalized sexualities.

    Homosexuality Pickett, Brent 2006

  • "Well he _were_ a queer bear -- a _queer_ un -- th '_queerest_ I ever hear tell about.

    Ungava Bob A Winter's Tale Dillon Wallace 1901

  • Though one could manage that if it wasn't for her queer temper -- _queer_ indeed! queer's no word for it. "

    Hoodie Mrs. Molesworth 1880

  • She feels the word queer implies that there is some discrepancy in her desires.

    Same Sex in the City Lauren Levin 2006

  • She feels the word queer implies that there is some discrepancy in her desires.

    Same Sex in the City Lauren Levin 2006

  • In 1997, the word queer and all its consistently vague connotations had yet to be introduced into my lexicon.

    The Full Feed from Katie Liederman 2011

  • The term "queer" was once an epithet, before gays and lesbians deliberately repatriated it for themselves.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed DIANE JERMYN 2011

  • I remember the first high school teacher who, without using the term queer theory, explained the idea that classic texts and films had subtexts that reflected non-normative experiences and that we could find something of our own experiences by looking a little closer. Sexuality 2009

  • With this in mind (in my opinion), legacy and new LGBT media should reflect in it's coverage that the term queer community isn't interchangeable with term LGBT community

    Pam's House Blend - Front Page 2009


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  • "The queerest of the queer

    The strangest of the strange

    The coldest of the cool

    The lamest of the lame

    The numbest of the dumb

    I hate to see you here

    You choke behind a smile

    A fake behind the fear

    The queerest of the queer"

    August 29, 2008

  • I wonder, when a native speaker hears the word queer in whatever context, is the first association homosexual or is the order really more like the one on (with homosexual in fifth place)?

    October 2, 2008

  • Seems to me like it would depend on the native speaker and how often he or she encounters gay people and/or has reason to talk about gay people. Certainly the word queer is not used very often in ordinary conversation (in my tiny little life) without the homosexual connotation being at the very least strongly implied. Other native English speakers may differ in this.

    I think it's a great word, though. I have a thing for qu- words. :)

    October 2, 2008

  • Yes, thanks, I like it, too, but as long as I'm not suddenly turned into a woman, I don't actually need the term homosexual that frequently. Besides, also in informal German speech it would sound spicy I think.^^

    October 2, 2008

  • In isolation, I think strange before I think gay. But how often does one encounter words in genuine isolation? Almost never. And to that end, nearly all situations in which I hear/read the word queer nowadays are referring to homosexuality.

    October 2, 2008

  • This word will always remind me of Enid Blyton. Always.

    October 2, 2008

  • Call me queer, but I like this word. :-)

    October 2, 2008

  • When some twenty years ago, certain people used to make the complaint, "You know, I don't have anything against homosexuals personally, I just don't like the way they took a wonderful word like 'gay' and made it mean something, you know, dirty" – or something to that effect, I always wanted to reply (but never really had the chance or perhaps the courage to): "Is that so? Well, in my opinion, your views are rather QUEER."

    I like both words, "gay" and "queer," in all their meanings, though I suspect that "gay" in the sense of "cheerful, playful" has been relegated to history. But I hope that "queer" keeps its meaning "odd" alongside its use by gays and lesbians who feel no need to apologize for being, at least in one small way, different from the majority. I always liked the notion that the word came from the German quer, which means "oblique, slanted, diagonal." I like being the diagonal in the dominant grid.

    October 2, 2008

  • Ooh! We're more slanty than other Wordies! :-D

    I'm with frindley and c_b on this. And I like the word whether in isolation or not--unless, of course, it's used as a weapon.

    October 2, 2008

  • I like its larger meaning too, to apply to people or thinks that are quirky or odd. It's a fine word all around.

    October 2, 2008

  • I can't hear "queer" without remembering (even if it's in the way back of my mind) Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:

    My little horse must think it queer

    To stop without a farmhouse near

    Between the woods and frozen lake

    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake

    To ask if there is some mistake...."

    October 4, 2008