Green’s Dictionary of Slang

queer adj.

[Ger. quer, oblique, skewed; the line between SE queer, strange, odd, peculiar, eccentric, and the Und. use is both semantically and chronologically slim; the SE slightly predates (at least in printed citations) the cant, but as the OED remarks, some examples of the one may in fact equally well serve for the other. Only the context gives any real clue, the most obvious of which occur in such undeniably Und. combs. as queer cove ; queer cuffin etc. Ribton-Turner, A History of Vagrants (1887), suggests Welsh chwired, craft, deceit or cunning. The use as a pej. description of homosexuals does not emerge until c.1915; like nigger n.1 , it has been repossessed by some homosexuals as an affirmative]

1. (UK Und., also quare, queerish, quer, quere, quier, quire) an all-purpose negative, the antonym of rum adj. (1)

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 83: quier nought.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching n.p.: [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: Quier signifies naught, and Cuffin (as I sayd before) a Man: and in Canting they term a Juftice of Peace, (because he punisheth them belike) by no other name than by Quier Cuffin, that is to say a Churle, or a Naughty man.
[UK]Dekker Canting Song O per se O O1: You Mawnders all, stow what you stall, to Rome-coues watch so quire.
[UK]Dekker Eng. Villainies (9th edn) .
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 45: Till Cramprings quire, tip Cove his hire / and Quire-Ken do them catch.
[UK] ‘Canting Song’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 23: A Canniken will Quire Cuffin / So quire to been Coves watch.
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Quier, cruel, naught.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere, base, Roguish, naught. How Queerely the Cull Tours? c. how roguishly the Fellow looks.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 196: [as cit. a.1674].
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) II [as cit. c.1698].
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy VI 157: Grave Dons of the Law and quere Prigs of the Gown.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 111: Victuals not fit to eat, Quer Peck.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 19: To speak ill – Cut Quere Whids.
[UK]Sham Beggar I i: This is a damn’d queer Dog, ’ent he Jack?
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 188: This bunter venus / Has thrown a queerish cloud between us. [Ibid.] 513: No man in this queer age can thrive, / But Jacobites of forty-five.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Queer or Quire, Base, roguish, bad, naught or worthless. How queerly the cull touts; how roguishly the fellow looks. It also means odd, uncommon. (cant).
[UK]G. Parker (attrib.) ‘The Sandman’s Wedding’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 65: For he’s the kiddy rum and queer, / That all the St. Giles’s boys do fear.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 272: Call me a stupid queer old toad!
[UK] ‘Holiday Time’ in Jovial Songster 69: So I drive oh; / Yet I carry some queer ones, you see, / And in holiday time all alive, oh.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Egan Boxiana I 7: He strolled from race-grounds to fairs, endeavouring to pick up a crust as a gambler, but that proving a queer lay, he resorted to teaching the art of defence.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 131: Rum slum—Gammon—queer talk or action, in which some fraudulent intentions are discoverable or suspected.
[UK]C. Dibdin Yngr Larks of Logic, Tom and Jerry I ii: Dang it, you be a queer one.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 26: The Pet’s mug looked a little queer.
[Aus]Sydney Gaz. 22 May 3/5: That’s the old King George, you know — though it does look summat queerish to me.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 192: If there’s anything queer about him once we get to work; in for a penny, in for a pound.
[UK]J. Grant Sketches in London 57: It tastes queerish, old chap.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 65: You staggs my queer togs, and thinks I’m chatty; but Lord love you! I never had a chat in my mortal days.
[UK]F.E. Smedley Frank Fairlegh (1878) 486: ‘Who is this miller, Peter?’ [...] ‘Well, he’s a queer one,’ was the reply.
North Devon Jrnl 28 July 6/1: Rushlights are queerish things to write on [...] This dark world would be worse without it.
[US]M. Griffith Autobiog. of a Female Slave 212: Dey spunk up and say dey was not niggers, but colored pussons, and dey call one anoder Mr. Wal, I t’ought it was quare enoff.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 280: This looks queer [...] Not much to be nabbed here.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 259/1: At some of the places characterised by my informant as ‘rackety,’ ‘queer,’ or ‘Life in London,’ the charge is often 3d. as 4d. [Ibid.] 260/1: Queer doings in the dos (sleeping) and everything.
[UK]H. Kingsley Ravenshoe II 82: That looks queerish.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 6/1: She would be handy to earn a ‘bob’ or two, when other things were ‘queer’.
[UK]Stonehaven Jrnl 31 Mar. 3/6: Sensations of spooneyism steal over one [...] to look on the queerish clock-work movements of the laced, gew-gawed [...] scented, powdered [...] and fascinating nurses of lascivity.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 264: Queer an old word once in continual use as a prefix, signifying base, roguish, and worthless, ― the opposite of rum, which signified good and genuine. queer, in all probability, is immediately derived from the cant language [...] it is more than probable that it was brought into this country, by the Gipseys, from Germany, where quer signifies ‘cross’ or ‘crooked.’.
[US]F.H. Sheppard Love Afloat 9: Queer craft and queer party.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ in Punch Almanack n.p.: If I don’t land some tin, my look-out’s queer.
[US]Brooklyn Dly Eagle (NY) 11 Dec. 4/7: ‘The Ballad of the Bunco Man’ [...] [He] garnered in the shiners / In a manner that was queer.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Mar. 7/3: And when his credit fails at last, / And things are looking ‘queer,’ / He gets ‘whitewashed,’ a process known / To every trader here.
[UK]Ipswich Jrnl 11 Jan. 4/7: Quixote Quicksight quizzed a queerish quid-box.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 122: Maggie, de housemaid, is near as queer, only she ain’t got de style de Duchess has.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 16 Mar. 373: He had known the man from school-days and had never admitted that he was more than ‘queer’ even when others declared him mad.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 4 Sept. 2/6: Startin’ games a little crummy, / Some as do say they is queer.
[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 251: Queer. insane.
[Ire]J.M. Synge Aran Islands (1912) II 105: He was a kind man but a queer man. Priests is queer people.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘A Tempered Wind’ in Gentle Grafter (1915) 172: Now I can go into a square, honest business and give all them queer jobs the shake.
[UK]A. Bennett Card (1974) 39: Eh, you’re a queer ’un, Mester Machin!
[US]J. Lait ‘Charlie the Wolf’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 38: This is the layout where that queer alarm goes off every twenty minutes.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 415: Queer also is used to mean mentally deficient, strange.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 200: Youse awful queer, chappie.
[UK]E. Garnett Family from One End Street 135: Well, this was a queer go, thought Rosie.
Dly Record (Lanarks) 21 June 6/3: ‘Some dashed queerish people knocing about in the hills’.
[UK]D. Dodge Bullets For The Bridegroom (1953) 35: Why would a stranger give a hoot because somebody came across the street in his direction? It was damn queer.
[Ire]S. Beckett Waiting for Godot Act II: I missed you ... and at the same time I was happy. Isn’t that a queer thing?
[US]R. Prather Always Leave ’Em Dying 119: Queer-looking bug.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 77: We’ve ’ad some queer drinks, but that takes the cake.
[US]L. McMurtry Horseman, Pass By (1997) 105: I guess I’m a queer, contrary old bastard.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 123: A man’s sex life is his own business, no matter how queer it may seem to someone else!
[UK](con. 1980s) G. Byrne Pictures in my Head 119: Oh yes, she is a queer one and I tell you!

2. (UK Und.) fake, counterfeit, esp. of money, jewellery, official papers etc; e.g. queer peg, a ‘bad’ shilling.

[UK]Hell Upon Earth 6: Queer, small, not good.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account of the Malefactors executed at Tyburn 18th March 1740 part III 15: Instead of returning the good Guinea again, they used to give a Queer One.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 41: They gives them the quare Ned or Six; and ignorant People think it is the same they had first. [Ibid.] 43: He knaps quare; he swears false.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Egan Boxiana II 423 Note: Queer, a term made use of by the dealers in soot, signifying a substitute [...] for the original article .
[UK] ‘Smith’s Frolic’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 61: A scout coming up I tipt him a queer peg.
[UK]Crim.-Con. Gaz. 1 Sept. 24/3: He was to be heard of in the Fleet prison, where he obtained a tidy living by selling queer jewellery, &c., &c.
[UK]Dickens Our Mutual Friend (1994) 278: I want to go a little more into buying up queer bills.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 7 Sept. n.p.: Five ‘fly coppers’ who had more of the ‘queer’ bonds in this case than had Dr Shine.
[UK]J. Greenwood Behind A Bus 137: He used to retail ‘queer’ sixpences at 2s. a dozen.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 224: Queer? [...] It’s good enough tuh come out of the U.S. mint, sah, that’s how queer it is!
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘A Tempered Wind’ in Gentle Grafter (1915) 163: I’m handling rhinestones [...] a small lot of the new queer ones and twos, and the Bonanza Budget.
[US]H. Wiley Wildcat 257: We needed those two vag wops you identified and needed ’em bad for launching the queer fifty paper.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 124: The swindler may victimize honest people through ‘queer’ stock, worthless real estate, forged checks, bogus money.
[US]D. Hammett Nightmare Town (2001) 33: Izzard is a plant! The whole damned town is queer.
[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/4: Here are a few more terms and definitions from the ‘Racket’ vocabulary: [...] ‘Queer,’ counterfeit.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 153: Queer.–Crooked ; criminal.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 205: I look at the note and told Jack it looked queer.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Banker Tells All 165: Like all makers of ‘queer’ coins he dare not pass them himself.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Lead With Your Left (1958) 93: Crazy shopkeeper phoned in he’d been stuck with a couple of queer ones.
[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 150: The diamonds, emeralds, pearls [...] go into hock and replaced by queer replicas.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 232: She’s gonna spill that ‘queer scratch’ con I’ve been playing.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 73: I never saw more’n two of them [i.e. $1000 bills] in my whole fuckin’ life, and one of them was queer.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 38: Other convict terms that are either still with us or have only relatively recently dropped include: [...] queer, racket, scragged, screw (a prison warder).

3. associated with the underworld.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 13 Oct. Sept. 3/3: Now I heard tho house was queer, so I goes a watchin’ it just to make sure — I’m of a decent family.

4. in senses of being ‘out of order’, of malfunctioning.

(a) ill, out of sorts; esp. in phr. feel queer, look queer.

[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 413: I find myself so plaguy queer.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 221: I find myself so plaguey queer.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. XVI 26/1: Very queer at dinner – took a walk afterwards to Fulham.
[UK]D. Roberts Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome I 19: John found himself a little queer or so; Felt too a sort of swimming in his head.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 15: And there sprawl’d, like a turtle turn’d queer on its back.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Heart of London II i: We must gammon queer – there’s extra allowance on the sick list.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 88: Say mother’s queer and the baby dying o’ thirst, and that may fetch a ha’penny.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 109/1: Many were the queer ‘mugs’ put on by those who had been ‘gone through’.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 74: Write it quick, for I’m queer, / And there’s mists comin’ over my sight.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Mar. 18/1: Somebody suggested breakfast at hotel. Don’t know about breakfast; feel ‘queer.’.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 84: Mother, I b’lieve Looey’s queer. I think she wants some med’cine.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 July 32/2: D’yer think I look sick? [...] Met Tom Merry just now. [...] He thought I was looking queer.
[UK]A.G. Empey Over the Top ‘Tommy’s Dict. of the Trenches’ 304: ‘Queer.’ Tommy’s term for being sick. The doctor immediately informs him that there is nothing queer about him, and Tommy doesn’t know whether to feel insulted or complimented.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1977) 6: Sheila’s queer, too – overwork, poor girl.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 444: He was kind of queer, though [...] he didn’t act like he was all there.
[UK](con. 1900s) J.B. Booth Sporting Times 138: Buy me a baked potato / I feel so deathly queer.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 78: Do you like Irish whiskey? I hate it. It made me queer.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Loving (1978) 91: I’ve come over queer.
[US]R. Service ‘The Parson’s Song’ in Songs of a Sun Lover (1955) 13: It put me queer, and for near a year I never drew sober breath, / Till I found myself in the bughouse ward with a claim staked out on death.
[UK]S. Berkoff East in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 78: I did turn queer when I saw our Mike – dirty bugger.

(b) of machinery etc, out of order.

[UK] ‘’Arry on the Season’ in Punch 22 June 298/1: The parks jest like bloomin peraries, the water supply going queer.

(c) (Aus.) drunk.

[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 21 June 9/6: Next day was recriminations, / Likewise lots of English beer / With a lady friend who called, and /Soon they did get werry queer.

(d) in difficulties.

[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Holy War’ in Chisholm (1951) 77: ‘Do you mean stoush?’ I sez. ‘Fer if yeh do / I warn yeh that a scrap might put me queer.’.

5. homosexual; thus queerness n., homosexuality; also of women, lesbian.

[Can]Vancouver Dly World 11 Oct. 10/4: A ‘sissy’ is an incomplete man [...] He has none of the masculine traits of a man and not one of the good qualities of a woman [...] But then we must remember what the Old Quaker said: ‘Everybody is queer but thee and me. And sometimes thee is a little queer’.
[US]L.A. Times 14 Nov. II 8: He said that the Ninety-six Club was the best; that it was composed of the ‘queer’ people, that got together every week. I asked Lowe why they called it the Ninety-six Club, and he said something about turning the letters around, before and behind.
[US]Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor Practical Value of Scientific Study of Juvenile Delinquency n.p.: A young man, easily ascertainable to be unusually fine in other characteristics, is probably ‘queer’ in sex tendency [R].
[US]R. McAlmon Companion Volume 214: Isn’t it strange though how all the queer men in the United States are friends of mine – the bitches all love me.
[US]R. McAlmon Distinguished Air (1963) 17: We voted against all the gold-digging dance places, and decided to look over the queer cafés.
[US]M. West Pleasure Man (1997) Act I: mrs. hetherington: Ugh! Such people [...] they’re so queer. hetherington: Yes, my dear – extraordinarily queer. I think queer is the word.
[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocab. of Bums’ in AS IV:5 343: Queer—Degenerate; abnormal.
[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 341: Whoops, Whoops! Whoops, my dear! / Can you tell me if she’s queer?
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 299: ‘Say, are all these guys queer?’ the Polack asked.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Cancer (1963) 101: I think she’s queer.
[UK]W. Holtby South Riding (1988) 53: There were some who happened to be queer and couldn’t help it, like that poor parson fellow who got himself into trouble up Norton Witral way with choir-boys.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 265: I’ve met a good many ‘queer’ women (lesbians).
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 42: That was why every American soldier who wasn’t queer had to have his buddy.
[US]Kerouac letter 2 Jan. in Charters 1 (1995) 140: I always felt uneasy about your queerness.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 1 Jan. 18: Finished reading Brideshead Revisited — some very amusing references to the queer side and so forth etc!
[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 114: Neal got tired of that [i.e. ‘his relation with Allen (Ginsberg)’], specfically of queerness.
[UK]P. Larkin letter 26 Jan. in Thwaite Sel. Letters (1992) 172: During the year I have merely graduated from ‘queer’ to ‘queer but nice’ in her mind... I find it amazingly difficult to talk to girls.
[US] A. Ginsberg ‘America’ [poem] America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: Horace is a queer interior decorator. He is dressed in a pair of tight-fitting white trousers, green jacket, purple pullover and bow-tie. He walks and behaves mincingly.
[US]F. Kohner Gidget Goes Hawaiian 51: I know I’m not queer or I am and don’t want to admit it.
[US](con. 1953–7) L. Yablonsky Violent Gang (1967) 221: After this queer bastard blew us [laughs], we beat the hell out of him – but good.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 64: The queer scene is also very popular around the show bizz lark.
[US](con. WWII) J. Jones Thin Red Line (1963) 418: There were lots of queer Cooks and Bakers and such, coke sackers, sock tuckers, and cork soakers, all around the island, and everybody knew about them.
[UK](con. 1948–52) L. Thomas Virgin Soldiers 38: You queer or sommat?
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 163: He must be rotten mad, and probably queer as well.
[UK]J. Colebrook Cross of Lassitude 129: Baby says she’s been turning queer for a long time, and Sugar says this is for real.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 41: She wondered briefly if he might be queer.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 381: I’m not queer. A little crazy maybe. And I’m not a faggot. I’m a Homosexual Man.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 12: One day he asked me to stick it in / right up his ass / I felt a little queer I must confess.
[UK]P. Theroux London Embassy 27: Maybe I was queer! Batchelor means queer!
[UK]A. Sayle Train to Hell 149: Still, serves him right, silly queer bastard.
[US]S. King It (1987) 807: I don’t go for that queer stuff.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 55: He’s not dancing because he’s queer.
(con. 1950s) Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 7: Sometimes butches would refer to themselves as ‘queer’ to indicate social stigma.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] ‘Where’s that little faggot? [...] Tell that little queer fucker I’m gonna kill him’.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 259: I’m hoping that Gillman will [...] smash that queer coupon.
[UK]Guardian G2 14 Jan. 5: Some gays and lesbians love queer-only spaces.
[UK]Guardian G2 19 Aug. 2: The woman vilified me in the street, calling me a ‘fucking queer cunt’.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun 213: I wasn’t a rabid ‘queer-hater’ like some of the gang.
[Aus]P. Temple Broken Shore (2007) [ebook] Michael the fag. Did his mother know Michael was queer?

6. (orig. US Und.) of a heterosexual male, sexually unorthodox.

[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 178: The big money is in the ‘queer’ guys. And what freaks some of ’em are!
[UK]G. Kersh Prelude to a Certain Midnight Bk I Ch. 13: this sort of nonsense with dog-whips, or whatever it might be [...] Your Queer fellow has his fun [...] with the connivance and the assistance of what a normal person would call the ‘victim’. The willing victim.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Cast the First Stone 152: Sure, they want you to do queer things with them, but that’s because they’re queer inside of them [...] I must admit some of them sure are queer.

As a general negative

In compounds

queer beak (n.) [beak n.1 (1)]

(UK Und.) an incorruptible magistrate.

[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 42: A rum Beak; a good Justice. A quare Beak; a bad Justice.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving A quare Beak a bad Justice.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Flash Dict.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Beak, queer, – a magistrate that is particularly strict to his duty.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[US]in : Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 Sept. n.p.: Big Moll Johnson, the Amazon of ‘Hooker’s division,’ a ‘rusty’ old ‘gin pig,’ lost to virtue and wedded to sin, was before the ‘beakquere’ [...] for creating a disturbance in the ‘snoozing ken’.
queer bird (n.) (also choir bird, quire bird) [ bird n.1 (3a); by 18C the term referred to any unreformed villain; Hindley’s ety. is fanciful]

1. (UK Und.) a mendicant villain who, recently released from prison, returns to robbery, specializing in stealing horses.

[UK]Awdeley Fraternitye of Vacabondes in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 4: A Quire bird is one that came lately out of prison, & goeth to seeke seruice. He is commonly a stealer of Horses.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London D2: Your Quire-Birdes are such as haue sung in such cages as Newgate or a country Gaole [...] they seeke presently to build their nests vnder some honest mans roofe, not with intent to bring him in any profit, but onely to put themselues into money or apparell (though it be by filching).
[UK]W. Winstanley New Help To Discourse 132: Quire Birds, are those who have sung in such cages as Newgate, or some Country Goal [sic], who having get loose, fall to their old trade of roguing and thieving again.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 53: Quire Birds are such who have sung in the Whit, the Naskin; that is, Newgate, Bridewell, or some Country Goal, who having got loose fall to their old trade of Roguing and Thieving again.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: queer birds c. such as having got loose, return to their old Trade of Roguing and Thieving.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 71: queer birds Reformed convicts who return to their old profession.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 317/1: queer blrds, voleurs libérés qui ont repris leurs vieilles habitudes.
[UK]C. Hindley Old Bk Collector’s Misc. 75: quire or choir cove or bird. — A complete rogue; one that has sung in different choirs or cages; from whence we have gaol birds.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 318: Queer birds (rogues released from prison).

2. a recidivist.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Quire Bird. One that has sing in Different Cages, i.e. Goals. Cant.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: Quire, or Choir Bird. A complete rogue, one that has sung in different choirs or cages, i.e. gaols.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1788].

3. see also SE compounds below.

queer bloke (n.)

(Aus. und.) a pickpocket’s assistant.

[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 2 June 21/2: The queer bloke blocked the gangway while I took Mr. Lantern-jaw’s purse.
queer bluffer (n.) (also queer buffer) [bluffer n.1 ]

a ‘sneaking, sharping, Cut-throat Ale-house or Inn-keeper’ (B.E.).

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Queer bluffer The master of a public-house the resort of rogues and sharpers, a cut-throat inn or alehouse keeper.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 19: An alehouse-keeper is ‘a buffer;’ and he is a ‘Queer buffer’ provided he chalks double, or is a sharper. Quere whether Bluffer is not used quite as often?
[US]Commercial Advertiser (N.Y.) 1 Feb. 2/3: The ken cove, [...] being a Queer buffer [...] a regular brush was kicked up, and the Charlies being called, before they could burn the ken, [...] they were nabbed and carried to the nask.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 26: Queer buffer [sic] – sharp inn keeper.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
queer booze (n.) (also queer bowse, quire bowse) [booze n. (1)]

sour or inferior beer, ‘small and naughtye drynke’ (Harman).

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 85: I cutt it is a quyer bouse [...] I saye it is a small and naughtye drynke.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London (3rd) J3: I cut, it is quire bowse, I bowld a flag the last darkmans.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 40: Quire bowse bad drinke.
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 191: Mort. Ile tell thee queere Cove, thou must maund at the Gigger for Pannum and Casum, or a cheat of queere bowse, or Kacklen Cheate, and whid rumpsie.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Queer bowse bad beer.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 27: Queer booze – bad beer.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
queer cove (n.) (also quire cove) [cove n. (1)]

1. (UK Und., also quier cove) a villain.

[UK]Greene Quip for an Upstart Courtier G3: It is reported you can lift or nip a boung like a quire Coue if you want pence.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 42: For all the Rome coves are budgd a beake / And the quire coves tippe the lowre.
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 191: Mort. Ile tell thee queere Cove, thou must maund at the Gigger for Pannum and Casum, or a cheat of queere bowse, or Kacklen Cheate, and whid rumpsie.
[UK]R. Brome Jovial Crew IV ii: Bing awast, The Quire Cove and the Harmanbeck.
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty III i: By lusty doxies, there’s not a quire cove, Nobler than I in all the bousing kens That are ’twixt Hockly-i’-th’-hole and Islington.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 51: Quier-Cove, A Rogue.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]W. Nevison in Newgate Calendar I (1926) 291: ‘Now,’ saith he, ‘that thou art entered into our fraternity, [...] for he that will be a quier cove, a professed rogue, must observe this rule, set down by an ancient patrico in these words: “Wilt thou a-begging go. o per se-o, o per se-o. Then must thou God forsake, And to the devil thee be take. o per se-o, etc.”’.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 6: Queer Cove, a Rogue.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 194: The Prancer drew the Quere Cove at the cropping of the Rottam through the Rum pads of the Rum-vill, and was flogg’d by the Nubbing-cove. [The Rogue was dragged at the Cart’s Arse through the chief Streets of London, and whipp’d by the Hangman].
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 105: [as cit. 1684].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK] ‘St Giles’s Greek’ in Sporting Mag. Dec. XIII 164/1: A poor old wiganowns flat was clerked at drop-a-cog by a couple of queer coves.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 316: A learned Judge once, examining a queer covy, a flash customer, or a rum fellow.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy II 390: Queer Coves, I hope you have left your dabs, and nobs, all right.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK](con. 1715) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 109: Who’s that queer cove in the full-bottomed wig?
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.

2. (also quer cove) a poor man.

[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 113: A poor Man A quer Cove.

3. a turnkey.

[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
queer crib (n.)

(Aus.) a criminal tavern and/or brothel.

[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 1 Apr. 3/3: The queer cribs [...] back of Prince-street had better take care of what they are about — he has heard of their flare-up’s and means paying them a visit.
queer cuffin (n.) (also queer cuffen, quire cuffin) [cuffin n. (1)]

1. (UK Und.) a Justice of the Peace (cf. cuffin-queer under cuffin n.).

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 84: the quyer cuffyn, the Iusticer of peace.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching n.p.: [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: A Churle is called, a Quier cuffin; Quier signifies naught, and Cuffin (as I said before) a Man: and in Canting they term a Juftice of peace, (because he punisheth them belike) by no other name than by Quier cuffin, that is to say a Churle, or a Naughty man.
[UK]Dekker ‘Bing Out Bien Morts’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 13: A canniken, mill quier cuffin, / so quier to ben cove’s watch.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Beggar’s Bush III iv: Let the queer-cuffin / And harmanbecks trie, and trine to the ruffin.
[UK]Dekker ‘Canting Song’ in Eng. Villainies (8th edn) O: To the quier Cuffing we bing.
[UK]R. Brome Jovial Crew II i: Toure out with your Glaziers, I swear by the Ruffin, / That we are assaulted by a queer Cuffin.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 47: Pardon the expression, for they call a Justice Quier Cuffin; that is to say [...] a wicked, knavish, or foolish man.
[UK] ‘Canting Song’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 23: A Canniken will Quire Cuffin / So quire to been Coves watch.
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Quier cuffing, a Justice of Peace, a naughty Fellow, a Churl.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-cuffin c. a Justice of Peace.
[UK]‘Rum-Mort’s Praise of Her Faithless Maunder’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 36: Duds and cheats thou oft hast won, / Yet the cuffin quire couldst shun.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Oxford Jrnl 4 Mar. 3/2: What made thee tell so many lies to the Queer Cuffin.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 260: Deil a gude fellow that has been but twelvemonth on the lay, be he ruffler or padder, but he knows my gybe as well as the jark of e’er a queer cuffin in England – and there’s rogue’s Latin for you.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford III 109: The poor fellows had been carried to the town of —, and brought before the queer cuffin.
[UK]Disraeli Venetia I 153: Queer cuffin will be the word yet, if we don’t tout.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]C. Kingsley Westward Ho II 170: ‘Go away,’ I heard her say [...] and then something about a ‘queer cuffin,’ (that’s a justice in these canters’ thieves’ Latin).
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 79: QUEER CUFFEN, a justice of the peace or magistrate, — a very ancient term mentioned in the first slang dictionary.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch ‘City Police Court’ 3 Oct. 234/1: Prisoner. A cakey-pannum-fencer, as ought to know better, peached on her, and she was nabbed by the sharping omee, and the queer-cuffen shut her up in the jug for a moll tooler.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Sept. 6/5: With my high character for knuckling, it was enough to be seen in a crowd to ensure my being taken before the queer cuffen if gripped.

2. a peasant.

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching n.p.: Yonder dwelleth a quier cuffen it were beneshp to mill him. Yonder dwelleth a hoggish and churlish man, it were well done to robbe him.
see sense 2.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-cuffin, a Justice of Peace; also a Churl.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
queer cull (n.) [cull n.1 (4)]

1. a foolish dandy, a fop.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-cull c. a Fop, or Fool, a Codshead.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Fielding Tom Jones (1959) 281: I will show a way to empty the pocket of a queer cull without any danger of the nubbing cheat.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK] ‘The Dustman’s Delight’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 87: The queer cull was done rumly.
[UK]‘A Harassing Painsworth’ in Yates & Brough (eds) Our Miscellany 28: ‘What is the queer cull’s business here?’ asked the rich-toned voice of Blueacre.

2. a poor, ill-dressed person.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-cull [...] a shabby poor Fellow.

3. (UK Und.) a passer of counterfeit money.

[UK]C. Hitchin Regulator 20: A Quear-Cull, one that puts off bad Money.
[UK]Cibber Refusal 10: The queer Cull promises to advance me t’other three, and bring me home, provide you will let him sneak into your List for a cool Thousand.
[UK]Life and Character of Moll King 12: We had ne’er a Queer Cull, a Buttock, or a Porpus, amongst them, but all as Rum and as Quiddish as ever Jonathan sent to be great Merchants in Virginia.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxviii: A Queer Cull One that puts off bad Money.
queer degen (n.) [degen n. (1)]

(UK Und.) a brass, iron or steel-hilted sword, with no special ornamentation.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-degen c. an Iron, Steel, or Brass-hilted Sword.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: queer dogen rusty sword.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 27: Queer dogen [sic] – a rusty sword.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
queer duke (n.) [duke n.1 (2)] (UK Und.)

1. an impoverished gentleman.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-duke c. a poor decayed Gentleman.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].

2. a lean, half-starved person.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-duke c. [...] a lean, thin, half Starved Fellow.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
queer gill (n.) [gill n.1 (2)]

1. a shabby fellow.

[UK]‘A Harassing Painsworth’ in Yates & Brough (eds) Our Miscellany 28: Listen! all you high pads and low pads, rum gills and queer gills, patricos, palliards, priggers, whipjacks, and jackmen, from the arch rogue to the needy mizzler.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 948/1: ca. 1800–40.

2. in fig. use, an untrusting, suspicious person.

[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Flash Dict.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 23 June 3/2: The latter proved himself to be a ‘queer gill’.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 172: Our own respective names, as high Pads and low Pads, Rum Gills and Queer Gills, [etc.].
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 255: I thought he was a ‘queer gill’ (suspicious) at first, and smoked us, from what he palavered to Phil when he gave him his ‘deux-wins’ (twopence).

In compounds

queer house (n.)

(Aus.) a meeting-place for unmarried couples to have sex, a maison de passe.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 4 Feb. 3/7: three witnesses testified to having seen her go into ‘queer’ houses with men [...] and to — well to other things [Ibid.] 3/8: The often demonstrated un-wisdom of lovely women [...] being followed and found in queer houses.
queer ken (n.) (also quier-ken, quire ken, quirken, quyer ken) [ken n.1 (1)] (UK Und.)

1. a prison.

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 84: quyerkin a pryson house.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: Then to the quier Ken to scowre the Cramp-ring, And then to be Tryn’d on the Chates, in the lightmans.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 40: Quire ken a prison house.
[UK]Dekker Canting Song O per se O O2: Till Cramprings quier, tip Cove his hire / and quier-kens do them catch.
[UK]Dekker Canting Song in Eng. Villainies (8th edn) as 1612.
[UK]Dekker Canters Dict. Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue [as cit. 1612].
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Quyer Ken, the Jayl, a Naughty house.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-ken c. an Ill House, or a Prison.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Queer ken, a Prison. Cant.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. (also quer ken) a house not worth robbing.

[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 114: A poor House A Quer Ken.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Flash Dict.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 27: Queer ken – a gentleman’s house without the furniture.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
queer ken hall (n.) (also quirken hall)

a prison.

[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 42: But if spid we shall be clyd, / And carried to the quirken hall.
queer kicks (n.) [kicks n.1 ]

(UK Und.) old, worn-out trousers; trousers of coarse material.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-kicks c. coarse, ord’nary or old Breeches.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
queer kid (n.)

a tough prize-fighter.

[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 23 June 3/2: The wrestling this day was the best ever seen in London, Cann and Stone had the queerest kids matched against them which the Metropolis can produce.
queer lot (n.)

second-rate goods or produce.

[UK]Dly Gaz. for Middlesborough 29 Aug. 3/5: All the fakes and dodges that enabled a man to get rid of a queer lot from Billingsgate at a spanking profit.
queer mort (n.) [mort n.]

1. (UK Und.) a woman suffering from venereal disease; ‘a dirty Drab, a jilting Wench, a Pockey jade’ (B.E.).

[UK]Dekker Eng. Villainies (9th edn) n.p.: Quier Mort A Quean who hath ye pox.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 51: Quier-Mort, A Pocky Jade.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 178: Queer-Mort A pockie baggage.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-mort c. a dirty Drab, a jilting Wench, a Pockey Jade.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Queer mort. A diseased strumpet. Cant.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1786].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. (also quer mort) a poor woman.

[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 113: A poor Woman A quer Mort.
queer nab (n.) [nab n.1 (3)]

(UK Und.) a cheap, shabby hat, thus one that is not worth stealing.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-nab c. a Felt, Carolina, Cloth, or ord’nary Hat, not worth whipping off a Man’s Head.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Queer nab, a felt hat, or other bad hat.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
queer ogles (n.) [ogle n. (1)]

1. (UK Und.) cross eyes; thus queer-ogled, squinting.

[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: queer ogles squinting eyes.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 129: ‘Queer ogled;’ squinting.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 26: Queer ogles – squinting eyes.
Old Fellow (London) 14 Nov. 3/1: John Stew, the musician, with his queer ogles.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.

2. in sing. a black eye.

[UK]Morn. Advertiser (London) 22 Aug. 4/3: The glims were doused and a prime lark ensued [...] which produced claret, and a few queer ogles.
queer place (n.) [poss. implication of sense 2 above]

1. prison.

[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 16: ‘Yes,’ he said looking down on his striped suit with obvious pride, ‘this whistle I got on’s a bit different from the old grey one they dish you out with back in the queer place.’.

2. a lavatory.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 948/2: since ca. 1950, at latest.
queer plunger (n.) [SE plunger, a diver]

a confidence trickster who plunges into water and is saved from ‘drowning’. Conveniently pre-assembled ‘rescuers’ then claim money for saving the person.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Queer plungers Cheats who throw themselves into the water, in order that they may be taken up by their accomplices, who carry them to one of the houses appointed by the Humane Society for the recovery of drowned persons, where they are rewarded by the society with a guinea each; and the supposed drowned person, pretending he was driven to that extremity by great necessity, also frequently sent away with a contribution in his pocket.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 137: There’s Touching Sue, Tolibon Nan, two or three queer plungers, a running rumbler, smacking Sam, a Cock-a-brass, and a sky-larker, &c.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 317/1: queer plungers, faux noyés. Ils tombent à l’eau comme par mégarde, ou perdent pied en se baignant; des complices apostés s’élancent à leur secours, les portent dans une des stations de la Société humaine, et reçoivent une récompense.
queer prancer (n.) [SE prancer/prancer n. (1)] (UK Und.)

1. an ageing prostitute.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.

2. a second-rate and/or worn-out horse.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere-prancer c. a Founder’d Jade, an ord’nary low-priz’d Horse.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK] ‘Modern Dict.’ in Sporting Mag. May XVIII .
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 16 Sept. 8/3: There is the ‘rum prad,’ the ‘queer prancer,’ and the ‘willing tit’.

3. a cowardly horse stealer.

[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: queere-prancer [...] a cowardly or faint-hearted Horse-stealer.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
queer rooster (n.) [SE rooster]

a police spy who frequents thieves’ haunts, often feigning sleep in order to listen to their conversations; thus dorse a darkey on the queer roost v., to fake sleep in order to overhear conversation.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 126: Whenever [...] a stranger is discovered, especially if he should sleep or seem to be asleep, ‘Look at the Queer Rooster,’ says one. ‘Blast my Eyes!’ cries another.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd edn) n.p.: Queer Rooster. An informer that pretends to be sleeping, and thereby overhears the conversation of thieves in night cellars.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 173: A person that sleeps soundly is called a Rum Snoozer. If he shams sleep to listen to conversation, then they say he is a Queer Rooster.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]G. Hangar Life, Adventures and Opinions II 60: Your flash-man, is [...] dorsing a darkey upon the queer roost .
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1788].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 71: queer rooster A fellow that lodges among thieves to hear what they have to say, and then imparts his information to officers for a consideration.
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant II. 162/2: Queer rooster (American thieves), a man that lodges among thieves to pick up information for the police.
Queer Street (n.)

see separate entry.

queer timber (n.)

a wooden leg.

[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. III 202/2: No sparring tomorrow, Duke, I’m down upon the queer timber.
queer wedge (n.) [wedge n.1 (1)]

1. a large belt or shoe buckle.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. pointed shoes.

[UK] ‘Tom the Drover’ No. 30 Papers of Francis Place (1819) n.p.: She pads the hoof up and down, and with a beaver castor she goes, / With an India man about her squeeze, and the queer wedges down to her toes.

3. adulterated gold or silver.

[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/2: Queer Wedge, counterfeited silver money.

Meaning fraudulent

In compounds

queer bail (n.)

fraudulent bail.

[UK]Belle’s Stratagem 15: May I never pluck another cull, if I don’t make Sir Robert Petres [...] take you into immediate custody — and I’ll take care you shan’t tip me any of your queer bail.
[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 20: Queer Bail [...] What security can there be in a situation of affairs where the hardiness of a villain, who never was worth a thousand farthings, will swear himself worth a thousand pounds, to become bail for a person who has no intention of payment?
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Queer bail. Insolvent sharpers, who make a profession of bailing persons arrested: they are generally styled Jew bail, from that branch of business being chiefly carried on by the sons of Judah. The lowest sort of these, [...] borrow or hire clothes to appear in [...] (cant).
[UK]Sporting Mag. Sept. XX 313/2: If there should be a rumption, I fear some would be at a loss for queer bail at this time o’night.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 79: QUEER BAIL, worthless persons who for a consideration would stand bail for any one in court.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
queer beer (n.)

(US) ‘near beer’, beer with a low alcohol content.

joe on Urban Dict. [Internet] queer beer a beverage that mostly women prefer but is not bad for me to enjoy eg. woodys ice, smirnof ice Pass the queer beer i’m thirsty.
queer bit (n.) [bit n.1 (1a)]

counterfeit money.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 27: The Queer Bit-Maker, like other industrious men, took orders for [...] fifty pounds-worth of Neds and Half Neds, and would sell you a yard of Queer-Bit, with the same facility as that a Publican sells a quart.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 11: Bitt—money. Queer bitt, bad; rum bit, good or passable money.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict. n.p.: Bit-queerems base coin.
queer bit-maker (n.)

(UK Und.) a coiner, a counterfeiter.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 26: Custom had made Coining such a property of ease and safety [...] that the Queer Bit-Maker, like other industrious men, took orders for a barrel of counterfeit half-pence.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 318: Queer birds (rogues released from prison), and queer bit-makers (counterfeiters).
queer cole (n.) (also quer cole) [cole n. (1) + -fencer sfx]

(UK Und.) counterfeit money; thus queer cole fencer, the distributor of counterfeit money; queer cole maker, a counterfeiter.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Queere cole, c. Clipt, Counterfeit, or Brass Money. Queer cole maker, c. a false-Coryner. Queere-cole-fencer, a Receiver and putter off of false Money.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 116: Naughty Money Quer Cole.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Queer cole fencer. A putter off, or utterer, of bad money. Queer cole maker. A maker of bad money.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 26: Queer cole makers – coiners of bad money.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 71: queer cole maker One who makes bad money.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 80: Spose you put me to the ‘queer cole maker’ himself.
queer paper (n.)

1. counterfeit paper money.

[UK]Thackeray Adventures of Philip (1899) 137: We’ve seen his name – the old man’s – on some very queer paper, says B. with a wink to J.

2. in fig. use, something dubious, unreliable.

[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ in Punch Almanack n.p.: Werry much enjoyed my autumn Caper, / But three quid fifteen do look queer paper.
[UK] ‘’Arry on His Critics’ in Punch 17 Dec. 280/2: Marriage is orful queer paper; it’s fatal, dear boy, as you say.
[UK] ‘’Arry’s Visit to the Moon’ in Punch Christmas Number in P. Marks (2006) 166: ‘Queer paper, my dear Miss Dianner,’ sez I.
queer screens (n.) [screen n.1 ]

(UK Und.) forged banknotes.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Queer screens; forged bank notes. The cove was twisted for smashing queer screens; the fellow was hanged for uttering forged bank notes.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford III 128: I say, has you heard as how Bill Fang went to Scratch land (Scotland) and was stretched for smashing queer screens? (that is, hung for uttering forged notes).
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 178: Readily the queer screens I then could smash.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd series) 362: These are all queer screens – and you went into the bank to smash some of them.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 89: Forged bank notes – queerscreens.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Sept. 6/5: In an evil moment he had made a ‘queer screen’ and ‘smashed it’.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 64: The following crook’s words and phrases date from the days of the old Old Bailey: [...] forged bank-notes – queer screens.

In phrases

on the queer

acting dishonestly.

[US]E. O’Neill In the Zone (1923) 12: I seen right away somethin’ on the queer was up.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 947: [...] C.20.

Meaning homosexual

In compounds

queer-faced (adj.)

a general pej.; lit. ‘looking like a homosexual’.

‘Lord Stanley’ ‘Dragon Mountain’ on woohoolio 16 Aug. [Internet] You mater of queer-faced bulls!, you dare interrupt me?!

In phrases

queer as... (adj.)

see separate entry.

SE, meaning odd/eccentric, in slang uses

In compounds

queer bird (n.)

1. an odd, eccentric person.

[US]H.H. Lewis A Gunner Aboard the ‘Yankee’ 9: Uncle Sam is a queer bird.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 7 Mar. [synd. col.] I have found [...] some queer birds in our family tree.
[US]G. Storm ‘Bobby Thatcher’ [comic strip] I’ve known some queer birds in my time, but I can’t make the professor out.
[UK]C. Harris Three-Ha’Pence to the Angel 46: Queer birds all foreigners.
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 22: Another queer bird was Mrs Cash.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 60: Billy’s a queer bird all right.

2. (US gay) a heterosexual who dabbles in homosexuality.

[US]K. Worthy Homosexual Generation Ch. xvi: A Queer Bird: One who enjoys an occasional homosexual romp but is mostly heterosexual.

3. see also sl. compounds above.

queer bitch (n.) [ bitch n.1 (3a); despite appearances, there is no hint of homosexuality]

‘an odd out of the way fellow’ (Grose 1785).

[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 59: thyestes died exceeding rich, / And left his staff to this queer bitch. [Ibid.] 413: You must give Jove a little credit; / He’s a queer bitch, but altogether / He best can rule both wind and weather.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Egan Life of an Actor 47: Oh, the ma-na-ger in—he is a queer bitch, I dare say—we shall have some fun, my lady.
queer card (n.) [card n.2 (2)]

an odd, eccentric person.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 81: You’re a queer card to venture within a mile of a police-station.
[UK] in Punch 13 Oct. 161/1: A meeting for the Abolition of Trial by Jury was held on Monday evening [...] Mr. Spouter, Q.C. (Queer Card) occupying the Chair.
queer customer (n.) (also queer merchant) [SE customer/merchant n.]

an odd or eccentric person.

[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 128: Tarter [sic], a queer customer, a powerful enemy.
[US]L.W. Garrard Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail 62: The visitors, thinking me a queer customer [...] ‘a fool’— as they were pleased to demoninate me.
[UK]E. Yates Broken to Harness II 297: ‘That’s a queer customer,’ said Kate [...] ‘A very queer customer.’.
[US]W.H. Thomes Bushrangers 225: Murden winked at me, as much as to say, ‘We have a queer customer here.’.
[UK]R.L. Stevenson Kidnapped 155: They’re queer customers, the Appin Stewarts.
[UK]Grantham Jrnl 30 Apr. 4/5: He said there was ‘a queer customer’ in the grounds, and there was likely to be some trouble.
[US]C. M’Govern Sarjint Larry an’ Frinds 56: It is a godalmighty queer customer dis deserter stranger is.
[US]News (Frederick, MD) 3 Sept. 11/2: That’s a queer little customer yonder in the gray suit.
queer fellow (n.)

1. an odd, eccentric person.

[US]Spectator No. 474 n.p.: I beg you would publish this letter, and let me be known all at once for a queer fellow, and avoided [F&H].
[UK]J. Keane On Blue Water 206: You know the ‘queer fellow'’(I knew he meant our other watch-mate).
[UK]Chuckles 10 Jan. 1: Here, vot’s dot queer fellow-looking man taking mine dog avay for?
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 60: He’d a good mind to tear over and spoil her lark with the queer fellow.
[Ire]H. Leonard Out After Dark 2: ‘I hear tell that the queer fella’ (myself) ‘has writ a play about yous.’.

2. a prisoner condemned to hang [ref. to Brendan Behan play The Quare Fellow].

[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
queer fish (n.) [fish n.1 (5)]

an odd or eccentric person.

[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 103: Gods are queer fish as well as men.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May VI 115/1: Odd fish, queer fish, strange fish, droll fish, / In short they be fish out of water.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 June 3/2: Old Spratt was a queer fish.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 24: What a queer fish Mr. Taylor must have been!
[UK]Thackeray Adventures of Philip (1899) 101: Was it to show me a queer fish that you took me to Dr. Firmin’s house in Parr Street?
[US]F.H. Sheppard Love Afloat 55: I shouldn’t care to be shown off as a queer fish.
[UK]R. Barnett Police Sergeant C 21 62: Our wisitors ’appens to be all English, barring one perhaps, and he’s a queer fish.
H. Frederic Damnation of Theron Ware 40: The Methodists [...] looked upon him as a queer fish.
[UK]B. Pain De Omnibus 106: You may tike my word fur it, we ’as some queer fish on thet lawst ’bus.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 Aug. 44/1: [T]he ‘next doors’ were, in the vocabulary of Ring’s Alley, ‘queer fish,’ and might kick over the traces at any moment.
[UK]R. Hall Well of Loneliness (1976) 20: Did you ever know such a queer fish as she is?
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 64: ‘Queer fish,’ Heathcote exclaimed.
[UK]A. Christie Three Act Tragedy (1964) 139: He’s a queer fish. Bit of a bad lot, if you ask me.
[US]H. Miller Sexus (1969) 193: He’s taken a fancy to you Hindus because you’re queer fish, see?
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘Man of Good Will’ in Coll. Stories (1965) 135: He wasn’t the sort of man to approve of queer fish.
queer hawk (n.) (also quare harp, quare hawk, queer harp) [SE queer/quare adj. (1) + ? harp n.1 (3) or fig. use of the harp as a symbolic Irish artefact, thus person]

(Irish) an odd person.

H. MacGrath Yellow Typhoon 13: You’re a queer hawk. I don’t suppose there’s a man on earth you really care for.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 199: Proper queer hawk, you are.
[UK]H. Tracy Mind You, I’ve Said Nothing (1961) 150: I’m a queer old hawk, am I not?
[UK]P. Boyle All Looks Yellow to the Jaundiced Eye 52: A different class of a character altogether you’d find using a public convenience during a slack period. Queer-hawks of one sort or another.
[UK](con. mid-1960s) J. Patrick Glasgow Gang Observed 51: To avoid being considered ‘a queer hawk’ or a ‘bent-shot’ (homosexual), I had to chip in to the conversation.
[Ire]H. Leonard A Life (1981) Act I: God, Dezzie, you’re a queer harp.
[Ire]H. Leonard Out After Dark 16: God, he said, almost rubbing his hands with excitement, was a queer harp.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 118: Queer-hawk (Glas.) – sometimes used of a homosexual but more usually a mental case.
[Ire](con. 1970) G. Moxley Danti-Dan in McGuinness Dazzling Dark (1996) I iv: She’s a queer hawk that one. Jesus.
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. [Internet] Quare hawk (n): odd fella.
Queer Street (n.)

see separate entry.

queer stuff (n.)

1. (S.Afr.) methylated spirits.

[SA]H.C. Bosman Cold Stone Jug (1981) II 28: They also spoke of it as ‘the weed’, or ‘the herb’, or ‘the queer stuff’ (although this latter appellation is more usually applied to methylated spirits).

2. see old queer under old adj.

In phrases

queer as...

see separate entry.