Definition of queer in English:



  • 1Strange; odd.

    ‘she had a queer feeling that they were being watched’
    • ‘Something in Dana's head felt weird, but not any stranger than the queer feeling in her heart.’
    • ‘Some local people seem not to exactly understand Coleman's exploits that may radiate a queer mystery.’
    • ‘I never thought of myself as having any morals but it seems a few firmly held convictions are lurking in there somewhere, doing queer things to my stomach when someone questions their validity.’
    • ‘To me it was much more to do with irony, or some weird twisted queer sense of humour.’
    • ‘I invite you to relive this most extraordinary of expeditions with me as we explore the strange and queer lands of England, Scotland, and the airport in Germany.’
    • ‘With a queer uncanny innocence, he seems always to have taken this one thing for granted.’
    • ‘A queer assortment, though such combinations are not unusual in the rural areas.’
    • ‘‘He was always a queer man but that winter he was queerer than ever,’ remembered Black Elk.’
    • ‘It enabled Guy to better understand the strange world of the Middle Sentients, the queer creatures who moved about the parallel world.’
    • ‘Dr. Strange is known for being the master of the queer and unusual dark arts of magic.’
    • ‘Now why is the right foot a weird blue and left foot a queer red?’
    • ‘He said this strangely, as if it was a queer thing to be up at this hour.’
    • ‘There is a curious, not to say queer paradox here, though.’
    • ‘The only strange thing was a queer kind of mound, in a glade by the bank of a stream.’
    • ‘So there were many types of guppies, tetra and this queer tortoise with a spout for mouth - really strange looking.’
    • ‘The rest of the group will be wearing masks called Zevala, dedicated to eccentric and queer animals from mythology.’
    • ‘This is a strange, queer, odd bunch - an odd assortment.’
    • ‘A queer man he was, with a right eye that was bigger than his left - and it twitched.’
    • ‘On the way home he wonders why he must be so queer and strange and spoil things.’
    • ‘It was a queer remark, mediaeval in its construction, but searing in its heat.’
    suspicious, suspect, irregular, questionable, dubious, doubtful, funny, mysterious, murky, dark, criminal, dishonest, corrupt, nefarious, crafty, deceitful, shifty, underhand, dishonourable, unscrupulous, unprincipled, fraudulent, illegal, unlawful
    odd, strange, unusual, funny, peculiar, curious, bizarre, weird, outlandish, eccentric, unconventional, unorthodox, uncanny, unexpected, unfamiliar, abnormal, anomalous, atypical, untypical, different, out of the ordinary, out of the way, extraordinary, remarkable, puzzling, mystifying, mysterious, perplexing, baffling, unaccountable, incongruous, uncommon, irregular, outré, offbeat, singular, deviant, aberrant, freak, freakish
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    1. 1.1British informal, dated [predicative]Slightly ill.
      ‘he was feeling rather queer’
      ill, unwell, poorly, bad, out of sorts, indisposed, not oneself, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, green about the gills, run down, washed out, faint, dizzy, giddy
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  • 2informal, offensive (of a person) homosexual.

    1. 2.1Denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially heterosexual norms.
      ‘queer geek culture has featured gay themes since the 1980s’
      ‘nightclubs have traditionally been a space where queer people, trans women in particular, can explore gender with relative safety’


informal, offensive
  • A homosexual man.


[WITH OBJECT]informal
  • Spoil or ruin (an agreement, event, or situation)

    ‘Reg didn't want someone meddling and queering the deal at the last minute’
    • ‘It's for a project which is in its early stages, and is confidential, so posting details could queer the pitch somewhat, as it were.’
    • ‘Advanced Micro Devices has again attempted to queer Intel's developer forum pitch by using an intercept and kill strategy.’
    • ‘The pitch is further queered by the weakness of the US dollar, which makes Ireland a far more expensive travel destination for Americans.’
    • ‘This year's general election saw the media do several things which queered the pitch of the election debate.’
    • ‘Families in both of these control most of the stock and the families could end up queering this deal.’
    • ‘They suspected that the presidential adviser was secretly trying to queer the lawsuit, which had been undertaken by a Democratic attorney general.’
    • ‘In the case of the police shooting, however, a running commentary on the investigation should be mandatory considering it now looks like the IPCC may be queering its own investigation.’
    • ‘The financial services industry has to a large extent queered its own pitch.’
    • ‘As with any partnering strategy the question is how deep does the relationship run and how do the companies stop queering each other's pitch.’
    • ‘My dismount, however, would have queered my chances for even the bronze.’
    • ‘With Glasgow Accies and Lenzie queering the pitch, promotion would always have been hard this year - next year Cumnock hope to be among the favourites.’
    • ‘Since a viewer watching this collection would have spent three previous episodes of tedium hearing about the mystery women who queered things between Slaughter and the DEA, it's nice to have the non-entity fleshed out.’
    • ‘The two major parties use the tyranny of their majority to put their own people - their own stooges - on the commission, to make sure that they queer the pitch in their own favour.’
    • ‘And it's the families that could wind up queering this deal.’
    • ‘An infatuation with statistics impels investigators to queer the pitch of an investigation and resort to shortcut methods to solve a crime somehow.’
    • ‘Aware, in his mid-forties, that all the time off for cricket had queered his prospects for mainstream advancement at the bank, Alan seized the new career opportunity.’
    • ‘The ‘beer orders’ of 1989, which forced brewers to offload their vast tied estates, further queered the brewers' pitch.’
    • ‘He knew killing Vida would queer his deal with Zoltan and leave him worse off than before.’
    • ‘Any unwelcome associations between this and the firm's frequent difficulties in getting its software delivered on time were obviously not enough to queer the deal.’
    • ‘Even so, the scene is in no need of being further queered by Brian Kulick, the director of the New York Shakespeare Festival's current Central Park revival.’
    spoil, damage, impair, harm, be detrimental to, mar, wreck, destroy, devastate, smash, shatter, scupper, scotch, disrupt, undo, thwart, hinder, foil, ruin, blight, injure, cripple, hurt, jeopardize, endanger, imperil, threaten, put at risk, undermine, prejudice, be prejudicial to, be disadvantageous to, play havoc with, be deleterious to, compromise
    botch, blow, put the kibosh on
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The word queer was first used to mean ‘homosexual’ in the late 19th century; when used by heterosexual people, it was originally an aggressively derogatory term. By the late 1980s, however, some gay people began to deliberately use the word queer in place of gay or homosexual, in an attempt, by using the word positively, to deprive it of its negative power. Queer also came to have broader connotations, relating not only to homosexuality but to any sexual orientation or gender identity not corresponding to heterosexual norms. The neutral use of queer is now well established and widely used, especially as an adjective or noun modifier, and exists alongside the derogatory usage


  • in queer street

    • dated, informal In difficulty, typically by being in debt.

      impoverished, poor, penniless, penurious, in penury, indigent, insolvent, impecunious, moneyless, hard up, poverty-stricken, needy, in need, in want, destitute
      poor as a church mouse, without a sou, in straitened circumstances, on one's beam ends, unable to make ends meet
      on the breadline
      broke, flat broke, strapped for cash, cleaned out, strapped, on one's uppers, without two brass farthings to rub together, without two pennies farthings to rub together
      skint, boracic, stony broke
      stone broke
      pauperized, beggared
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  • queer fish

    • informal A person whose behaviour seems strange or unusual.

      ‘they have invariably chosen the queer fish in preference to the more or less recognizable member of the human race’
      • ‘The musical is a queer fish, but youth theatre thrives on such challenges.’
      eccentric, oddity, odd fellow, unorthodox person, character, individualist, individual, free spirit, misfit
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  • queer someone's pitch

    • informal Spoil someone's plans or chances of doing something, especially secretly or maliciously.

      • ‘But with this marriage alliance queering the pitch as far as India is concerned, it could be a long time before he appears on Indian TV screens again.’
      • ‘But then America and Europe queered the pitch, like they always do.’
      • ‘This is the time of the year, when commercial establishments queer their pitch for selling their products.’
      • ‘Nor did he want to queer his pitch with the Labour leadership, when he decided to press forward with his avowed intention to seek re-entry to the party at a later date.’
      • ‘It would seem likely that there is at least an oral agreement that Corel will not start any more such lawsuits to queer Microsoft 's pitch in the corporate marketplace.’
      • ‘The financial services industry has to a large extent queered its own pitch.’
      ruin, wreck, destroy, upset, undo, mess up, make a mess of, dash, sabotage, scupper, scotch, torpedo, blast, vitiate
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Early 16th century: considered to be from German quer oblique, perverse, but the origin is doubtful.