AskDefine | Define queer

Dictionary Definition

queer adj
1 beyond or deviating from the usual or expected; "a curious hybrid accent"; "her speech has a funny twang"; "they have some funny ideas about war"; "had an odd name"; "the peculiar aromatic odor of cloves"; "something definitely queer about this town"; "what a rum fellow"; "singular behavior" [syn: curious, funny, odd, peculiar, rum, rummy, singular]
2 not as expected; "there was something fishy about the accident"; "up to some funny business"; "some definitely queer goings-on"; "a shady deal"; "her motives were suspect"; "suspicious behavior" [syn: fishy, funny, shady, suspect, suspicious]
3 homosexual or arousing homosexual desires [syn: gay, homophile(a)] n : offensive terms for an openly homosexual man [syn: fagot, faggot, fag, fairy, nance, pansy, queen, poof, poove, pouf]


1 hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of; "What ultimately frustrated every challenger was Ruth's amazing September surge"; "foil your opponent" [syn: thwart, spoil, scotch, foil, cross, frustrate, baffle, bilk]
2 put in a dangerous, disadvantageous, or difficult position [syn: expose, scupper, endanger, peril]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Scottish, perhaps from Low German (Brunswick dialect) queer = "oblique, off-center", related to German quer = "oblique, perverse, odd", from Old High German twerh = "oblique," from PIE stem *twerk- = "to turn, twist, wind" (related to thwart).


  • /kwir/
  • /kwir/
  • (for both noun and adjective; but see usage note on pronunciation)

Usage notes

  • The use of this word to mean "homosexual" was formerly, and is often still, considered pejorative. However, in the way that all language is dynamic and pliable, the word is also sometimes now used (primarily as adjective) as a neutral or even positive descriptive term, including by some (primarily younger) homosexuals. In its pejorative use, it is applied almost solely to males. In its modern neutral use, it can be applied to all genders.
Some GLBT youth now use the term as an "all-inclusive" term for the GLBTIQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, Queer) etc. community.
'Queer' is also used as a positive term for people who reject mainstream-gay values and culture. People who identify with this version of queer distance themselves from the commercialisation and (relatively) conformist values of the gay mainstream and embrace fluid and unconstrained definitions of sexuality and gender. There is some common ground between this definition of queer and the punk and DIY scenes. See also "genderqueer".
  • In the English dialect of the southern United States, the two senses of the adjective queer (homosexual and weird, odd, different, or unwell) are sometimes distinguished by pronunciation. Queer (homosexual) is pronounced (kwîr), queer (weird, odd, different, or unwell) is pronounced (kwär). This is generally considered old-fashioned and is only used when the word is emphasized, as in the phrase "that's awful queer" (pronounced THăts ôr'fəl kwär). The distinction is dying out as that latter sense of the word dies out.


  1. In the context of "Derogatory, slang": A homosexual; a person who appears homosexual, or a person who has homosexual qualities.
  2. In the context of "slang": A person of atypical sexuality or sexual identity.



en-adj er
  1. (somewhat old-fashioned) Weird, odd or different.
  2. (somewhat old-fashioned) Slightly unwell (mainly in to feel queer).
  3. Homosexual.
  4. Having to do with homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, etc.


weird, odd, different
Slightly unwell
Having to do with homosexuality, etc.

Derived terms


  1. To render an endeavor or agreement ineffective or null.
  2. To reevaluate or reinterpret a work with an eye to sexual orientation and/or gender, as by applying queer theory.

Extensive Definition

The word queer has traditionally meant "strange" or "unusual," but its use in reference to LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, etc.) communities as well as those perceived to be members of those communities has replaced the traditional definition and application. Its usage is considered controversial and underwent substantial changes over the course of the 20th Century with some LGBT re-claiming the term as a means of self-empowerment. The term is still considered by some to be offensive and derisive, and by others as a re-appropriated term used to describe a sexual orientation and/or gender identity or gender expression that does not conform to heteronormative society.

As a contemporary antonym of heteronormative

In contemporary usage, some use queer as an inclusive, unifying sociopolitical umbrella term for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, intersexual, genderqueer, or of any other non-heterosexual sexuality, sexual anatomy, or gender identity. It can also include asexual and autosexual people, as well as gender normative heterosexuals whose sexual orientations or activities place them outside the heterosexual-defined mainstream (e.g. BDSM practitioners, or polyamorous persons). Queer in this sense (depending on how broadly it is defined) is commonly used as a synonym for such terms as LGBT.
Because of the context in which it was reclaimed, queer has sociopolitical connotations, and is often preferred by those who are activists, by those who strongly reject traditional gender identities, by those who reject distinct sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight, and by those who see themselves as oppressed by the heteronormativity of the larger culture. In this usage it retains the historical connotation of "outside the bounds of normal society" and can be construed as "breaking the rules for sex and gender." It can be preferred because of its ambiguity, which allows "queer" identifying people to avoid the sometimes strict boundaries that surround other labels. In this context, "queer" is not a synonym for LGBT as it creates a space for "queer" heterosexuals as well as "non-queer" ("straight-acting") homosexuals.
For some queer-identified people, part of the point of the term 'queer' is that it simultaneously builds up and tears down boundaries of identity. For instance, among genderqueer people, who do not solidly identify with one particular gender, once solid gender roles have been torn down, it becomes difficult to situate sexual identity. For some people, the non-specificity of the term is liberating. Queerness becomes a way to simultaneously make a political move against heteronormativity while simultaneously refusing to engage in traditional essentialist identity politics.
Several television shows, including Queer Eye, the cartoon Queer Duck and the British and American versions of Queer as Folk, have also used the term in their titles to reinforce their positive self-identification message. This commonplace usage has, especially in the American colloquial culture, has recently led to the more hip and iconic abbreviation "Q". It seems that in a society where mutual degradation privately amongst races and cultures and religions still exists, the heavy tolerance for insensitivity towards gay people remain.
The term is sometimes capitalized when referring to an identity or community, rather than merely a sexual fact (cf. the capitalized use of Deaf).
Queers Without Borders, a network of queer activists that opposes border regimes while supporting those people oppressed by them.
Queer Mutiny North, a D-I-Y non-hierarchical collective that aims to create politically motivated queer alternatives to the commercial and non-representative gay scene in the north of England.
Cardiff Queer Mutiny, A not-for-profit collective inspired by queer activism/philosophy, DIY punk ethics, creativity, and political activist movements. (These groups put on much more regular activity but are smaller in size.)

See also




  • Anon. "Queercore". i-D magazine No. 110; the sexuality issue. (1992).
  • Crimp, D. AIDS DemoGraphics. (1990).
  • Katlin, T. "Slant: Queer Nation". Artforum, November 1990. pp. 21-23.
  • Tucker, S. "Gender, Fucking & Utopia". Social text, Vol.9, No.1. (1992).

External links

queer in Bosnian: Queer
queer in Bulgarian: Куиър
queer in German: Queer
queer in Esperanto: Kviro
queer in Spanish: Queer
queer in French: Queer
queer in Croatian: Queer
queer in Italian: Queer
queer in Hebrew: קוויר
queer in Macedonian: Queer
queer in Dutch: Queer
queer in Japanese: クィア
queer in Portuguese: Queer
queer in Romanian: Queer
queer in Swedish: Queer
queer in Chinese: 酷儿

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

AC-DC, abnormal, absurd, affected, amphierotic, anomalous, apocryphal, artificial, assumed, atypical, auntie, autoerotic, bad check, bad money, ball up, base coin, bastard, batty, bereft of reason, bi-guy, bisexed, bisexual, bizarre, bogus, bogus money, bollix, bollix up, botch, brainsick, brummagem, bugger, bugger up, bull dyke, bungle, butch, catamite, chicken, colorable, colored, cook, counterfeit, counterfeit money, counterfeited, crab, crackbrained, cracked, cramp, crank, crankish, cranky, crazed, crazy, crimp, cripple, crotchety, curious, daft, de-energize, debilitate, deluded, demented, deprived of reason, deranged, destroy, deviant, deviative, different, disable, disenable, disoriented, distorted, distraught, divergent, dizzy, dotty, doubtful, drain, dressed up, droll, dubious, dummy, dyke, eccentric, effeminate, embellished, embroidered, enfeeble, erratic, ersatz, exceptional, exotic, extraordinary, factitious, fag, faggot, faint, fairy, fake, faked, false money, falsified, feigned, femme, fey, fictitious, fictive, fishy, flaky, flighty, flit, forgery, foul up, freaked out, freakish, freaky, fricatrice, fruit, funny, garbled, gay, giddy, green goods, gum, gum up, gunsel, hallucinated, hamstring, hash up, hipped, homo, homoerotic, homophile, homosexual, homosexualist, hors de combat, idiocratic, idiosyncratic, illegitimate, imitation, inactivate, incapacitate, incongruous, insane, invert, inverted, irrational, irregular, junky, kibosh, kinky, kite, kooky, lame, laughable, lesbian, light-headed, loco, loony, louse up, ludicrous, lunatic, mad, maddened, maggoty, maim, make-believe, man-made, manic, mannish, mar, mazed, mental, mentally deficient, meshuggah, mess up, mock, moon-struck, muck up, muddle, muff, mysterious, nance, non compos, non compos mentis, not all there, not right, nuts, nutty, odd, oddball, of unsound mind, off, off the wall, offbeat, out, outlandish, outre, pansy, passing strange, pathic, peculiar, perverted, phony, pinchbeck, play hell with, play hob with, poorly, potty, pretended, pseudo, psycho, punk, put, put-on, puzzling, quaint, qualmish, qualmy, quasi, queasy, queen, queer the works, questionable, quirky, reasonless, remarkable, ridiculous, rubber check, ruin, sabotage, sapphic, sapphist, screw up, screwball, screwy, self-styled, senseless, shady, sham, shoddy, sick, simulated, singular, sink, snafu, snarl up, so-called, soi-disant, spike, spoil, spurious, stark-mad, stark-staring mad, strange, supposititious, suspect, suspicious, synthetic, tetched, tin, tinsel, titivated, touched, transvestite, tribade, tribadistic, twisted, unauthentic, unbalanced, uncanny, uncommon, unconventional, unearthly, uneasy, unexampled, unfit, ungenuine, unhinged, unnatural, unorthodox, unparalleled, unreal, unsane, unsettled, unsound, unusual, unwell, vertiginous, wacky, wandering, warped, weaken, weird, whimsical, wing, witless, wondrous strange, wreck
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