Word of the Day: queer

Word of the Day
July 26, 2016
queer (adjective, noun, verb)
/kwɪr/  sound icon
Though it was once mainly derogatory, the word queer is now used by many members of the homosexual community.
When we say that something is queer, we mean that it's odd and different in some way, or possibly suspicious and questionable. It is a little old fashioned now and is mainly used in British English, but queer also means 'slightly sick or ill.' Nowadays, queer is used mostly as a synonym for homosexual, thought it doesn't really mean the exact same thing. As a noun, it mainly means 'homosexual man.' As a verb, to queer means 'to ruin or spoil something.'


Example sentences
The car was making a queer noise, so Tania took it to the garage.
The man seemed like a queer character and Robert didn't trust him.
I'm feeling a bit queer; I might go to see the doctor.
There is still some prejudice around being queer, but not as much as there used to be.
Jerome identifies as queer.
The rain really queered our plans for the day.


Words often used with queer
queer fish (UK): someone who behaves in a strange or odd way. Example: "The new woman at work is a bit of a queer fish, but she's OK when you get to know her."
Multi-word forms
queer the pitch (UK): spoil someone's chances of success. Example: "Jeremy was hoping for a promotion, but when one of his colleagues told lies about him to the boss, it really queered the pitch for him."
Did you know?
Queer is a word that needs to be used carefully. Since the late 19th century, it has been used as a derogatory term to mean 'homosexual,' particularly a homosexual man, so it is a term that can cause offense. However, since the 1980s, the homosexual community has been reclaiming the word, and it is often used among gay people. Its use has also changed slightly over the last few decades and it is now often used to describe people who do not conform to a heteronormative type. This can include gay people, but also, for example, bisexuals, polyamorous people, trans people, and people who identify as non-binary (do not identify as one gender or the other).
Other forms
queerness (noun), queerly (adverb)
Queer first appeared in English around the year 1500, and meant 'strange, peculiar, eccentric.' It comes from the Old High German word twerh, which meant 'oblique,' and is related to the German word quer, meaning 'oblique, cross, or adverse.'
Queer in other languages
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