crone (n.)

late 14c., "a feeble and withered old woman," in Middle English a strong term of abuse, from Anglo-French carogne "carrion, carcass; an old ewe," also a term of abuse, from Old North French carogne, Old French charogne, term of abuse for a cantankerous or withered woman, also "old sheep," literally "carrion," from Vulgar Latin *caronia (see carrion).

Perhaps the "old ewe" sense is older than the "old woman" one in French, but the former is attested in English only from 16c. Since mid-20c. the word has been somewhat reclaimed in feminism and neo-paganism as a symbol of mature female wisdom and power.

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*sker- (1)

also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut."

It forms all or part of: bias; carnage; carnal; carnation; carnival; carnivorous; carrion; cenacle; charcuterie; charnel; corium; cortex; crone; cuirass; currier; curt; decorticate; excoriate; incarnadine; incarnate; incarnation; kirtle; scabbard; scar (n.2) "bare and broken rocky face of a cliff or mountain;" scaramouche; scarf (n.2) "connecting joint;" scarp; score; scrabble; scrap (n.1) "small piece;" scrape; screen; screw; scrimmage; scrofula; scrub (n.1) "low, stunted tree;" scurf; shard; share (n.1) "portion;" share (n.2) "iron blade of a plow;" sharp; shear; shears; sheer (adj.) "absolute, utter;" shirt; shore (n.) "land bordering a large body of water;" short; shrub; skerry; skirmish; skirt.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit krnati "hurts, wounds, kills," krntati "cuts;" Hittite karsh- "to cut off;" Greek keirein "to cut, shear;" Latin curtus "short;" Lithuanian skiriu, skirti "to separate;" Old English sceran, scieran "to cleave, hew, cut with a sharp instrument;" Old Irish scaraim "I separate;" Welsh ysgar "to separate," ysgyr "fragment."

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rebec (n.)

small medieval three-stringed musical instrument with a pear-shaped sound box, played with a bow, early 15c., rebekke, from Old French rebec (15c.), an unexplained alteration (perhaps somehow influenced by bec "beak") of ribabe (13c.), which is ultimately from Arabic rebab.

Compare Old Provençal rebec, also, with random alterations, Middle English ribibe (c. 1400), ribible (early 14c.), Italian ribeca, ribebla, Portuguese arrabil, Spanish rabel. The same word also was used disparagingly for "old woman, crone," but the connection is unclear and it might involve the name Rebecca.

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quean (n.)

Middle English quene "a woman; a low-born woman," from Old English cwene "woman," also "female serf, hussy, prostitute" (as in portcwene "public woman"), from Proto-Germanic *kwenon (source also of Old Saxon quan, Old High German quena, Old Norse kona, Gothic qino "wife, woman," Middle Dutch quene "vain or worthless woman"), from PIE root *gwen- "woman." Compare queen (n.). The -ea- spelling is attested from early 15c.

Woman considered without regard to qualities or position (perhaps by contrast to the senses in queen), hence often a slighting or abusive term for a woman; in Middle English it could mean "a harlot; an old woman or crone," and it was in popular use 16c.-17c. in the sense of "hussy." But in Scottish often with a sense of "young, robust woman" (late 15c.).

The sense of "effeminate homosexual" is recorded by 1935, according to Partridge this was especially in Australian slang.

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