a. Deviating from what is expected or normal; strange: “The light above his head made a queer reflection of himself in the glowing wineglass” ( Carson McCullers )
b. Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric: “His mother is very queer, with witchy hair and mismatched shoes” ( Caroline Preston )
c. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious: thought there was something queer about his explanation.
a. Offensive Slang Gay or lesbian.
b. Usage Problem Of or relating to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender people.
- Feeling slightly ill, as in being dizzy or queasy.
- Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a gay man or a lesbian.
- Usage Problem A lesbian, gay male, bisexual, or transgender person.
transitive verbqueered, queer·ing, queers Slang
To ruin or thwart: “might try to queer the Games with anything from troop movements … to a bomb attack” ( Newsweek )
Origin of queer Perhaps from
Low German oblique, off-center from
Middle Low German dwer
; see terkw-
in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: A reclaimed word is a word that was formerly used solely as a slur but that has been semantically overturned by members of the maligned group, who use it as a term of defiant pride. Queer is an example of a word undergoing this process. For decades queer was used as a derogatory adjective for gays and lesbians, but in the 1980s the term began to be used by gay and lesbian activists as a term of self-identification. Eventually, it came to be used as an umbrella term that included gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. Nevertheless, a sizable percentage of people to whom this term might apply still hold queer to be a hateful insult, and its use by heterosexuals is often considered offensive. Similarly, other reclaimed words are usually offensive to the in-group when used by outsiders, so caution must be taken with their use when one is not a member of the group.
(comparative queerer, superlative queerest)
- (slightly dated) Weird, odd or different; whimsical.
- a queer story; a queer look
- (slightly dated) Mysterious; suspicious; questionable.
- a queer transaction
- (slightly dated) Slightly unwell (mainly in to feel queer).
- (slang) Homosexual.
- Having to do with homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism etc.
- a queer reading of a text
- (colloquial) A person who is or appears homosexual, or who has homosexual qualities.
- (colloquial) A person of atypical sexuality or sexual identity.
- (colloquial, vulgar, derogatory) General term of abuse, casting aspersions on target's sexuality; compare gay.
- The use of this word to mean "homosexual" was formerly, and is often still, considered pejorative. However, in the way that all language is dynamic and pliable, the word is also sometimes now used (primarily as adjective) as a neutral or even positive descriptive term, including by some (primarily younger) homosexuals. In its pejorative use, it is applied usually to males. In its modern neutral use, it is applied to all genders.
- Some LGBT individuals now use the term as an all-inclusive term for the GLBTIQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, Queer) etc. community. This may include people who consider themselves to be politically (otherwise sociologically) GLBTIQ without necessarily displaying, or even simply inclined towards behavior that is not heteronormative. This new usage is again by primarily younger people.
- 'Queer' is also used as a positive term for people, some of whom reject mainstream-gay values and culture as exclusive and limiting. People who identify with this version of queer distance themselves from the commercialisation and (relatively) conformist values of the gay mainstream and embrace fluid and unconstrained definitions of sexuality and gender. There is some common ground between this definition of queer and the punk and DIY scenes. See also "genderqueer".
- In the English dialect of the southern United States, the two senses of the adjective queer (homosexual and weird, odd, different, or unwell) are sometimes distinguished by pronunciation. Queer (homosexual) is pronounced (kwÃ®r), queer (weird, odd, different, or unwell) is pronounced (kwÃ¤r). This is generally considered old-fashioned and is only used when the word is emphasized, as in the phrase "that's awful queer" (pronounced THÄƒts Ã´r'fÉ™l kwÃ¤r). The distinction is dying out as that latter sense of the word dies out.
(third-person singular simple present queers, present participle queering, simple past and past participle queered)
- To render an endeavor or agreement ineffective or null.
- To reevaluate or reinterpret a work with an eye to sexual orientation and/or to gender, as by applying queer theory.
(comparative more queer, superlative most queer)
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.