Definitions

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

  • adj. Deviating from the expected or normal; strange: a queer situation.
  • adj. Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric. See Synonyms at strange.
  • adj. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious.
  • adj. Slang Fake; counterfeit.
  • adj. Feeling slightly ill; queasy.
  • adj. Offensive Slang Homosexual.
  • adj. Usage Problem Of or relating to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgendered people.
  • n. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a homosexual person.
  • n. Usage Problem A lesbian, gay male, bisexual, or transgendered person.
  • transitive v. Slang To ruin or thwart: "might try to queer the Games with anything from troop movements . . . to a bomb attack” ( Newsweek).
  • transitive v. Slang To put (someone) in a bad position.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. At variance with what is usual or normal; differing in some odd way from what is ordinary; odd; singular; strange; whimsical.
  • adj. Mysterious; suspicious; questionable.
  • adj. homosexual.
  • n. Counterfeit money.
  • n. a homosexual.
  • transitive v. To puzzle.
  • transitive v. To ridicule; to banter; to rally.
  • transitive v. To spoil the effect or success of, as by ridicule; to throw a wet blanket on; to spoil.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. Counterfeit money; “green goods.”
  • To banter; ridicule; deride.
  • To puzzle.
  • To put wrong (unexpectedly); throw out of its proper status or working; ruin the success of; render useless by interference or infelicitous aid.
  • n. An obsolete form of quire.
  • n. One of the joints or division-planes of queery rock.

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

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

Etymologies

Perhaps from Low German, oblique, off-center, from Middle Low German dwer.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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

    Homosexuality

  • 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

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

    Ungava Bob A Winter's Tale

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

    Hoodie

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

    Same Sex in the City

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

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

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

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • 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.

    About.com Sexuality

  • 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

  • In other words, for the most part the nuance of using the term queer is that queer functionally is a subset of the LGBT community -- which is why many people add a Q to LGBT -- but that LGBT isn't a subset of Q.

    Pam's House Blend - Front Page

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Comments

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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    October 2, 2008

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

    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 dictionary.com (with homosexual in fifth place)?

    October 2, 2008

  • "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