"young, robust woman," 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"), from PIE root *gwen- "woman." Popular 16c.-17c. in sense "hussy." Sense of "effeminate homosexual" is recorded from 1935, especially in Australian slang.
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