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queer (adj.)

c. 1500, "strange, peculiar, odd, eccentric," from Scottish, perhaps from Low German (Brunswick dialect) queer "oblique, off-center," which is related to German quer "oblique, perverse, odd," from Old High German twerh "oblique" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). For the suggested sense evolution, compare cross (adj.). But OED is against this etymology on grounds of timing and sense.

The meaning "appearing, feeling, or behaving otherwise than is usual or normal" is by 1781. The colloquial sense of "open to suspicion, doubtful as to honesty" is by 1740. As a slang noun, "counterfeit money," by 1812; to shove the queer (1859) was "to pass counterfeit money. Queer Street (1811) was the imaginary place where persons in difficulties and shady characters lived, hence, in cant generally, "contrary to one's wishes."

Sense of "homosexual" is attested by 1922; the noun in this sense is 1935, from the adjective. Related: Queerly. Queer studies as an academic discipline is attested from 1994.

Among the entries in the 1811 "Lexicon Balatronicum" are: Queer as Dick's Hatband "Out of order without knowing one's disease"; Queer Bitch "An odd out of the way fellow"; Queer Ken "A prison";  Queer Mort "A diseased strumpet";  Queer Rooster "An informer that pretends to be sleeping and thereby overhears the conversation of thieves in nightcellars."

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queer (v.)

"to spoil, ruin," 1812, slang, from queer (adj.). Related: Queered; queering. Earlier it meant "to puzzle, ridicule, deride, cheat" (1790). To queer the pitch (1846) is in reference to the patter of an itinerant tradesman or showman (see pitch (n.1)).

These wanderers, and those who are still seen occasionally in the back streets of the metropolis, are said to 'go a-pitching ;' the spot they select for their performance is their 'pitch,' and any interruption of their feats, such as an accident, or the interference of a policeman, is said to 'queer the pitch,'—in other words, to spoil it. [Thomas Frost, "Circus Life and Circus Celebrities," London, 1875]
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queerness (n.)

1680s, "strangeness, oddity," from queer (adj.) + -ness. Meaning "homosexuality" is from 1956. Alternative queerity is by 1711.

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quirk (n.)

1560s, "a quibble, an artful evasion," a word of unknown origin, perhaps connected to German quer (see queer (adj.)) via the notion of twisting and slanting; but its earliest appearance in western England dialect seems to argue against this as its source. Perhaps originally a technical term for a twist or flourish in weaving. Sense of "peculiarity" is c. 1600.

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Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to twist."

It forms all or part of: contort; distort; extort; extortion; nasturtium; queer; retort; thwart; torch; torment; torque (n.) "rotating force;" torsion; tort; torticollis; tortuous; torture; truss.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit tarkuh "spindle;" Latin torquere "to twist;" Old Church Slavonic traku "band, girdle;" Old High German drahsil "turner," German drechseln "to turn on a lathe;" Old Norse þvert "across," Old English þweorh "transverse, perverse, angry, cross," Gothic þwairhs "angry."
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rum (adj.)

"excellent, fine, good, valuable," canting slang, 1560s, also rome, "fine," said to be from Romany rom "male, husband" (see Romany). A very common 16c. cant word (opposed to queer), as in rum kicks "Breeches of gold or silver brocade, or richly laced with gold or silver" [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785].

By 1774 it also had come to mean rather the opposite: "odd, strange, bad, queer, spurious," perhaps because it had been so often used approvingly by rogues in reference to one another. Or perhaps this is a different word. This was the main sense after c. 1800.

Rom (or rum) and quier (or queer) enter largely into combination, thus--rom = gallant, fine, clever, excellent, strong; rom-bouse = wine or strong drink; rum-bite = a clever trick or fraud; rum-blowen = a handsome mistress; rum-bung = a full purse; rum-diver = a clever pickpocket; rum-padder = a well-mounted highwayman, etc.: also queere = base, roguish; queer-bung = an empty purse; queer-cole = bad money; queer-diver = a bungling pickpocket; queer-ken = a prison; queer-mort = a foundered whore, and so forth. [John S. Farmer, "Musa Pedestris," 1896]
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quizzical (adj.)

"queer, characteristic of a quiz; teasing, shy," 1789, from quiz (n.) "odd or eccentric person" (1782), a word of unknown origin, + -ical. Related: Quizzically; quizzicality.

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strange (adj.)

late 13c., straunge, "from elsewhere, foreign, unknown, unfamiliar, not belonging to the place where found," from Old French estrange "foreign, alien, unusual, unfamiliar, curious; distant; inhospitable; estranged, separated" (Anglo-French estraunge, strange, straunge; Modern French étrange), from Latin extraneus "foreign, external, from without" (source also of Italian strano "strange, foreign," Spanish extraño), from extra "outside of" (see extra-). In early use also strounge. The surname Lestrange is attested from late 12c. Sense of "queer, surprising" is attested from c. 1300, also "aloof, reserved, distant; estranged." In nuclear physics, from 1956.

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metrosexual (adj.)

by 1996, from metropolitan + -sexual, ending abstracted from homosexual, heterosexual. Wikipedia defines it as "a portmanteau of metropolitan and heterosexual, coined in 1994 describing a man who is especially meticulous about his grooming and appearance, typically spending a significant amount of time and money on shopping as part of this."

Nevertheless, the metrosexual man contradicts the basic premise of traditional heterosexuality—that only women are looked at and only men do the looking. Metrosexual man might prefer women, he might prefer men, but when all's said and done nothing comes between him and his reflection. [Mark Simpson, "It's a Queer World," 1996]
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pseudonym (n.)

"false name," especially a fictitious name assumed by an author to conceal identity, 1828, in part a back-formation from pseudonymous, in part from German pseudonym and French pseudonyme (adj.), from Greek pseudōnymos "having a false name, under a false name," from pseudēs "false" (see pseudo-) + onyma, Aeolic dialectal variant of onoma "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name").

"Possibly a dictionary word" at first [Barnhart]. Fowler calls it "a queer out-of-the-way term for an everyday thing." Properly in reference to made-up names; the name of an actual author or person of reputation affixed to a work he or she did not write is an allonym. An author's actual name affixed to his or her own work is an autonym (1867). Related: Pseudonymity.

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