Definition of queer in English:



  • 1Strange; odd.

    ‘she had a queer feeling that they were being watched’
    • ‘‘He was always a queer man but that winter he was queerer than ever,’ remembered Black Elk.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A queer man he was, with a right eye that was bigger than his left - and it twitched.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It enabled Guy to better understand the strange world of the Middle Sentients, the queer creatures who moved about the parallel world.’
    • ‘To me it was much more to do with irony, or some weird twisted queer sense of humour.’
    • ‘Something in Dana's head felt weird, but not any stranger than the queer feeling in her heart.’
    • ‘He said this strangely, as if it was a queer thing to be up at this hour.’
    • ‘Some local people seem not to exactly understand Coleman's exploits that may radiate a queer mystery.’
    • ‘Dr. Strange is known for being the master of the queer and unusual dark arts of magic.’
    • ‘A queer assortment, though such combinations are not unusual in the rural areas.’
    • ‘Now why is the right foot a weird blue and left foot a queer red?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was a queer remark, mediaeval in its construction, but searing in its heat.’
    • ‘With a queer uncanny innocence, he seems always to have taken this one thing for granted.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is a strange, queer, odd bunch - an odd assortment.’
    • ‘On the way home he wonders why he must be so queer and strange and spoil things.’
    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
    suspicious, suspect, irregular, questionable, dubious, doubtful, funny, mysterious, murky, dark, criminal, dishonest, corrupt, nefarious, crafty, deceitful, shifty, underhand, dishonourable, unscrupulous, unprincipled, fraudulent, illegal, unlawful
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    1. 1.1British dated, informal 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.

    gay, lesbian, sapphic, lesbigay
    homosexual, gay, lesbian, sapphic
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    1. 2.1 Denoting 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.

    gay, lesbian, gay person, lesbigay
    homosexual, gay, lesbian
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[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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘An infatuation with statistics impels investigators to queer the pitch of an investigation and resort to shortcut methods to solve a crime somehow.’
    • ‘Families in both of these control most of the stock and the families could end up queering this deal.’
    • ‘Advanced Micro Devices has again attempted to queer Intel's developer forum pitch by using an intercept and kill strategy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ‘beer orders’ of 1989, which forced brewers to offload their vast tied estates, further queered the brewers' pitch.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And it's the families that could wind up queering this deal.’
    • ‘This year's general election saw the media do several things which queered the pitch of the election debate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The pitch is further queered by the weakness of the US dollar, which makes Ireland a far more expensive travel destination for Americans.’
    • ‘The financial services industry has to a large extent queered its own pitch.’
    • ‘They suspected that the presidential adviser was secretly trying to queer the lawsuit, which had been undertaken by a Democratic attorney general.’
    • ‘He knew killing Vida would queer his deal with Zoltan and leave him worse off than before.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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
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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
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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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is the time of the year, when commercial establishments queer their pitch for selling their products.’
      • ‘But then America and Europe queered the pitch, like they always do.’
      • ‘The financial services industry has to a large extent queered its own pitch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.