Green’s Dictionary of Slang

queen n.

1. as a heterosexual woman.

(a) [18C+] (US, also quine) a pretty girl, a beauty.

(b) [late 19C-1950s] (UK Und.) a female gang leader.

(c) [late 19C+] a woman.

(d) [20C+] (US) the best, usu. used with a suitable n. or v., e.g. queen of maths.

(e) [late 19C–1940s] a woman, usu. categorized by her job, e.g. candy counter queen.

(f) [1940s+] (S.Afr.) a woman who runs an illicit township bar or shebeen [abbr. shebeen queen under shebeen n.].

2. as a male homosexual [16C SE quean, a woman; this sp. is still occas. used to distinguish it f. SE use (cf. quean n. (2))].

(a) [late 19C+] an effeminate (older) homosexual male. Popular culture offers a number of variations based on words and phrases including queen, e.g. Queen for a day; Queen Mother; Queen of All the Fairies. The variety of homosexual tastes is often denoted by a comb. of adj. + queen (see -queen sfx).

(b) [1960s] (gay) used ironically by a homosexual of a heterosexual.

(c) [1970s+] (US prison) an attractive, effeminate young prison homosexual; as such, much sought after and fought over.

(d) [1980s+] (Aus. prison) a transsexual.

In compounds

queen Mary (n.) [Mary n. (2a)]

[1970s+] (US gay) an obese gay man.

queen mother (n.)

[1970s] (US gay) an older homosexual man.

Queens’ Row (n.) [ref. to 1941 film King’s Row, starring Ronald Reagan (1911–2004)]

1. [1950s+] (US gay) the Public Gardens, Boston, Massachusetts.

2. [1960s+] (US prison) a section of the prison where homosexual inmates have their cells.

In phrases

queen for a day (n.)

[2000s] (S.Afr. gay) an ostensibly heterosexual married man, who has sex with men and then returns home.

queen of Scotch (n.) [pun on Mary Queen of Scots + Scotch whisky]

[1970s] (US gay) an alcoholic gay man.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

queen’s head (n.) [the monarch’s head on the stamp]

[mid-late 19C] a postage stamp.

queen’s picture (n.) (also queen’s face, queen’s images, queen’s portrait) [the pictures of the reigning monarch, in this case Queen Anne and Queen Victoria, on one side of the coin]

[early 18C; mid–late 19C] money; orig. coins, currently notes.

queen’s tears (n.) [? ref. to the tears Queen Victoria supposedly shed after the defeat at Isandhlwana]

[1940s+] (S.Afr. Zulu) alcohol, usu. gin.

In phrases

draw the queen’s picture (v.)

see under draw v.4

queen of tarts (n.)

see under tart n.

queen’s gold medal (n.) [the monarch’s head on the coin]

[late 19C–1900s] a shilling (5p).

where the queen goes on foot (n.) (also where the queen sends nobody) [note Urquhart, Gargantua & Pantagruel (1653): ‘Cagar. Spanish. To do that which the king himself can’t get another to do for him’]

[20C+] the lavatory.