Pronunciation Adjective

queer (comparative queerer, superlative queerest)

  1. (dated) Weird, odd or different; whimsical. [from 16th c.]
    • 1865, Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
      “I wish I hadn’t cried so much!” said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. “I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears! That will be a queer thing, to be sure! However, everything is queer to-day.”
    • 1877, Ulysses S. Grant, page 252, The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: November 1, 1876–September 30, 1878
      One thing has struck me as a bit queer. During my two terms of office the whole Democratic press, and the morbidly honest and 'reformatory' portion of the Republican press, thought it horrible to keep U.S. troops stationed in the Southern States, and when they were called upon to protect the lives of negroes–as much citizens under the Constitution as if their skins were white–the country was scarcely large enough to hold the sound of indignation belched forth by them for some years. Now, however, there is no hesitation about exhausting the whole power of the government to suppress a strike on the slightest intimation that danger threatens.
    • 1885, David Dixon Porter, page 274, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War
      It looked queer to me to see boxes labeled "His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America." The packages so labeled contained Bass ale or Cognac brandy, which cost "His Excellency" less than we Yankees had to pay for it. Think of the President drinking imported liquors while his soldiers were living on pop-corn and water!
    • 1927, J. B. S. Haldane, “Possible Worlds” in Possible Worlds and Other Papers, London: Chatto & Windus,,
      Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
  2. (Britain, informal, dated) Slightly unwell (mainly in to feel queer). [from 18th c.]
  3. (colloquial, sometimes, pejorative) Homosexual. [from 19th c.]
  4. (colloquial, sometimes, pejorative) Not heterosexual: homosexual, bisexual, asexual, etc.
  5. (broadly) Pertaining to sexual behaviour or identity which does not conform to conventional heterosexual norms, assumptions etc. [from 20th c.]
    the queer community
    • 1999, Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, Routledge 2002, Preface to 1999 edition:
      If gender is no longer to be understood as consolidated through normative sexuality, then is there a crisis of gender that is specific to queer contexts?
  • (weird, odd or different) seeSynonyms en
  • (unwell) seeSynonyms en
  • (homosexual) seeSynonyms en
  • (unconventional sexual behavior)
Translations Translations
  • French: mal fichu (to feel queer se sentir mal fichu)
  • German: unwohl
  • Italian: un po' male (to feel queer stare un po' male, sentirsi poco bene)
  • Spanish: trucha
Translations Translations
  • German: queer
  • Russian: извращённый
  • Spanish: (neutral) torcido

queer (plural queers)

  1. (colloquial, sometimes, pejorative) A person who is or appears homosexual, or who has homosexual qualities.
  2. (colloquial, sometimes, pejorative) A person of any non-heterosexual sexuality or sexual identity.
  3. (colloquial, sometimes, pejorative) A person of any genderqueer identity.
  4. (definite, with "the", informal, archaic) Counterfeit money.
    • 1913, Rex Stout, Her Forbidden Knight, 1997 Carroll & Graf edition, ISBN 0786704446, page 133:
      You're shoving the queer.
    Synonyms: funny money, snide
  • (homosexual person) seeSynonyms en
  • German: Queers (plural)

queer (queers, present participle queering; past and past participle queered)

  1. (transitive, dated) To render an endeavor or agreement ineffective or null.
    • 1955, Rex Stout, "When a Man Murders...", in Three Witnesses, October 1994 Bantam edition, ISBN 0553249592, page 78:
      I was a lot more apt to queer it than help it.
    Synonyms: invalidate
  2. (UK, dialect, dated) To puzzle.
    • 1887, G. W. Appelton, A Terrible Legacy: A Tale of the South Downs, London: Ward and Downey, Chapter II, page 12, :
      "But lor-a-mussy, Jacob, how could a woman get away from here with all her boxes in the middle of the night?"
      "That's what queered me," and Spink slowly shook his head, "and queered a good many; for of course it got newsed about […] "
    • 1894, Ivan Dexter, Talmud: A Strange Narrative of Central Australia, published in serial form in Port Adelaide News and Lefevre's Peninsula Advertiser (SA), Chapter III, :
      "Where do you come from?" Stanley queered.
  3. (slang, dated) To ridicule; to banter; to rally.
  4. (slang, dated) To spoil the effect or success of, as by ridicule; to throw a wet blanket on; to spoil.
    • 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, Book Two, Chapter IV, pages 270-271, :
      "Food is what queered the party. We ordered a big supper to be sent up to the room about two o'clock. Alec didn't give the waiter a tip, so I guess the little bastard snitched."
    • 1926, D. H. Lawrence, "Glad Ghosts" in The Complete Short Stories, Penguin, 1977, Vol. 3, page 678:
      Well, then I got buried—shell dropped, and the dug-out caved in—and that queered me. They sent me home.
  5. (social science) To reevaluate or reinterpret (a work) with an eye to sexual orientation and/or to gender, as by applying queer theory.
    • 2003, Marcella Althaus-Reid, The Queer God, page 9:
      If I go, for instance, to the history of the church in Latin America, and decide to queer the history of the Jesuitic Missions, I may find that, in many ways, the missions were more sexual than Christian.
    • 2006, Carla Freccero, Queer/Early/Modern (page 80)
      Jonathan Goldberg further explores the implications of queering history in his essay in the same volume.
    • 2013, Mark Davidson, Deborah Martin, Urban Politics: Critical Approaches, SAGE (ISBN 9781446293034), chapter 8 ↗:
      We might say that there has been a ‘queering’ of urban studies insofar as the metropolitan lives, subcultures and social movements of gays and lesbians are now seen as valid objects of study.


  1. Queerly.

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