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.
updated on March 16, 2021