Green’s Dictionary of Slang

queer v.

1. to quiz or ridicule, to puzzle.

[UK]Morris et al. ‘Knowing Joe’ Festival of Anacreon (1810) 51: No boy of my age could talk louder, / Crack a joke, tip the wink, or a droll story tell, / Of my cleverness none were prouder: / So thinks I it’s better not following plow, / To try with these youths to queer low folk.
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘The Waggoner’ Collection of Songs II 182: Your natty sparks and flashy dames / How I do love to queer, / I runs my rigs, / And patters, and gigs, / And plays a hundred comical games.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Dec. VII 163/1: A sheepish flat I can queer and bam.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: To Queer. To puzzle or confound. I have queered the old full bottom; i.e. I have puzzled the judge.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. XIII 233/2: For Tom was a wit [...] / And he’d queer the old putt, for his long-winded grace.
[UK]G. Colman Yngr Heir at Law II ii: Pish, now you be queering a body.
[UK] ‘The Rage’ Jovial Songster 19: Be’t to bam, or to hoax, or to queer, or to quis, / Or howe’er in the ton you are flashing.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1796].
[UK]W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 272: Come now Jeanie, ye are but queering us.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 67: Queering the clergyman at his father’s table.
[UK]‘Nocturnal Sports’ in Universal Songster II 180/2: The beak [...] queered us vith his law-grammar, haxing hus demmed cramp questions ve couldn’t hunderstand.
[UK]J. Miller Complete Jest Book 262: He had gloriously queered old full-bottom.
[Ire] ‘The Four & Ninepenny Hat’ Dublin Comic Songster 102: But of all the wonders of the day, / That queer each sage and flat [...] Is the four and ninepenny hat, sirs.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend II 245: You may bully him and queer him till all is blue, and he won’t budge.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 111: He had a way of getting out of the dilemma by what he called ‘queering his opponent’.
[US]S. Kernochan Dry Hustle 12: She paused, waiting for my eyes to stop queering.

2. to impose on, to swindle, to cheat; thus queer a flat, to hoodwink a gullible victim.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 128: The man commences the practice of the art of Queering the woman who takes money.
[UK]M. Robinson Walsingham IV 277: Fine news! – I’m dished – done up. The sharps have queered me.
[UK]‘The Young Prig’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 83: There no queering fate, sirs .
[UK]Byron Don Juan canto XI line 147: Who in a row like Tom could lead the van, [...] Who queer a flat? Who (spite of Bow-street’s ban) On the high-toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
[UK] ‘Smith’s Frolic’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 62: Then up a dark alley I went with my whore / Ma’am thought of my bit for to queer me was sure.
[UK] ‘Life of a Vagabond’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 64: Hocussing cocknies, queering flats.
[UK]W.N. Glascock Land Sharks and Sea Gulls II 4: You’re a good un, Timmins at queering the flats.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Scamps of London II iii: I’ll queer them yet.
[UK] in Punch ‘Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug’ 31 Jan. n.p.: In the dayrooms the cuffins we queers at our ease, / And at Darkmans we run the rig just as we please.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 196: ‘To queer a flat,’ to puzzle or confound a ‘gull’ or silly fellow.
[UK]Swindon Advertiser 11 Nov. 4/1: I taught ’em [...] how to slip out of one’s skin, and another slip in [...] And, if copped, to queer the jug by making up a mug.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Himself’ Punch 21 Dec. in P. Marks (2006) 6: But you’ll only queer flats in that fashion, the sharp sort is bound to be fly.
[UK]Sporting Times 3 May 3/1: But it was rough on Curtis to queer him at the most critical moment.
[UK]Marvel 12 Nov. 6: Don’t you queer the biz, where’s the jooils, Foxy?
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 411: I had a job [...] all fixed up a couple of years ago. And that louse queered it thinking he could get it.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 187: queer a flat To swindle; to cheat; to defraud.

3. to spoil, to put out of order.

[UK]C. Dibdin ‘The Waggoner’ Collection of Songs II 183: Ball plunges, and paints him all over with mud, / Queers his stockings, and spoils the beau!
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 142: This mode is not taunting the distress of others: it is nothing more or less, than queering the attempt of a bold beggar to impose upon your softness.
[US]Commercial Advertiser (N.Y.) 19 May 2/5: Our readers are not used to such scientific expressions as — ‘close-enough-in’ — ‘giving a rattler on the chest’ — ‘hit well left and right, and one of his peepers queered’ — ‘giving a hit which crimsoned well,’ &c. &c.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 130: Queer my glims, if that be n’t little Paul!
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 64: He [...] split upon him, when he crack’d a crib. / And had him pinch’d; and quodded, too [...] Swore – he, the deed had stagg’d. So queer’d Bill’s council, and got Billy lagged.
[US]H.L. Williams Gay Life in N.Y. 88: A noted pugilist who ‘queered the ogles’.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 218: The disease – consumption – ‘was queering him’.
[UK]Referee 26 May n.p.: Why should not our non-professor’s little game be queered? [F&H].
[UK]Sporting Times 18 Jan. 1: She unexpectedly queered him by saying—‘Well, at any rate, the flea you complained of this morning was caught off me’.
[US]S.F. Chron. 6 June 11/5: De lampers stood ’round till dey got wise to de joint, an’ dey didn’t do a t’ing but queer me marks.
[UK]G.R. Sims In London’s Heart 84: If he was to come in while we was on the premises it might queer the thing altogether.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 1 Oct. 4/7: If he’s badly ‘narked’ at that, / You may know, / That the ‘bally koshermen / Queered the show’ .
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) 17: He could always ‘queer’ a game in some specious manner, if he were pushed too far.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald III (1960) 241: Food is what queered the party.
[US]R. Whitfield Green Ice (1988) 41: That queered the suicide gag.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 238: That queered it.
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 45: I don’t want no Dills Hotel whore queerin the joint fer all the respec’bul faces.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 66: Might as well get it over with [...] before this little jerk wakes up and queers the whole deal.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 34: An empty shop two doors along. If they queer the jeweller’s security system, then go in through the basement.
[Ire](con. 1921) R. Doyle A Star Called Henry (2000) 313: She’s queering things for the rest of us.
[US] ‘Animated Dominoes, Dice’ at Old and Sold [Internet] Any professional crap shooter’s game was queered if the quicksilver expanded and fell out [of crooked dice].

4. to act in an odd manner.

[UK]R. Morley ‘Flashey Joe’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 96: Vhy, then you swore you would he kind / But you have queer’d so much of late.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 4: My stomach queered and I couldn’t do another sit-up.

5. (UK und.) to rob.

[UK]Flash Mirror 6: Queering of a Duff Shop. — Going into an eating house, calling for a go of soup, prigging the knives and forks, pocketing the saltcellars [and] seizing a roll of duff, and paddling off scot-free.

6. (UK Und.) to pose as.

[UK]G.M.W. Reynolds Mysteries of London III 66/1: His jomen [sic] Mutton-Face Sal, with her moll-sack queering a raclan, stalled.

7. of a person, to spoil the reputation of, to spoil someone’s efforts or opportunities.

[Aus]Melbourne Punch ‘The Lay of the Lags’ 14 Mar. 1/1: Then when all the bobbies blewed are, / We can buz and rim a billy, / None to pall the trick and queer us, / Sending us to stun on skilly.
[UK] ‘’Arry [...] at the Grosvenor Gallery’ Punch 10 Jan. 24/2: Give yer my davy it queers / A snide ’un to trot round these rooms.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 47: Well, look-a-here, dis t’ing queers us! See? We’re queered!
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 21: See all the trouble he’s givin’ us. He’ll queer the whole of us if we don’t get him.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 88: I’m disgraced [...] It’s all over – all over. I’m queered – queered forever!
[US]S. Lewis Our Mr Wrenn (1936) 231: Good Lord, suppose Istra ‘queered’ him at Mrs. Arty’s!
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 191: If there’s one thing that’ll queer you in this town it’s this labor stuff.
[UK]E. Glyn Flirt and Flapper 81: Flapper: He had returned to see me — but Lollie’s queered him again — and he’s going to Mexico.
[US]W.M. Raine Cool Customer 285: He doesn’t know enough about my game to queer it.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 147: You can [...] see that no one gets to him to queer the deal.
[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 189: Imagine this little bitch trying to queer her deal with Brindo!
[US]S. Yurick Warriors (1966) 21: Look at that; he queering you with a look.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 431: She tried to talk to Jacky with her eyes, warning him not to queer the setup.
[US]D.H. Sterry Chicken (2003) 32: It’s my theory that she really wants to be with a woman, but I’m not about to tell her that. Don’t want to queer a good thing.

8. (US) to cause trouble for.

[US]Van Loan ‘The Revenge of Kid Morales’ in Taking the Count 284: Smith never lets up on a fellow that dogs it [...] He’ll queer you and chase you out of the business.

9. to sexually abuse.

[UK]W. Talsman Gaudy Image (1966) 40: ‘I thought so! [...] Been here a week and queered every guy on the place.’ She swung her broom madly.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 118: They go getting a hard on for you and trying to queer you.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 88: anal intercourse [...] queer a person (hetero sl).
[Ire]F. Mac Anna Ship Inspector 85: Conker had had to stuff his own hands into his pockets to stop The Barrel feeling him up. ‘He tried to queer me,’ Conker said. ‘I think we should at least tell the newspapers.’.

10. to highlight the homosexual aspects of a given form of creativity, e.g. painting.

[UK]Guardian Online 6 Feb. [Internet] At the beginning [Hockney’s] art was a queering of British abstraction [...] a ticker tape of toilet graffiti, cottaging and sex in the shower.

In phrases

queer someone’s act (v.)

see under act n.

queer someone’s ogle (v.) (also queer someone’s ogles) [ogle n. (1)]

to get or give a black eye.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. XXIII 216/2: George gave him so violent a blow in the eye, or, in the technical phrase, so queered his ogle.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Morn. Post 29 July 3/5: In the 15th round his ogles were queered, his teeth chattered, and his head was dunned.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 171: Cain would have given Abel a good milling, perhaps queered his ogles, or spoiled his box of dominoes, but they would have been found next morning supping porridge.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 71: ‘The bloke queered his ogles among the bruisers,’ he had his eyes blacked by the pugilists.
queer someone’s pitch (v.) (also queer the pitch) [SE pitch, a stall; music-hall use, where it dealt with one actor stealing a scene from the others, and in turn from street patterers, whose open-air pitch would be queered by an over-officious policeman]

1. to spoil someone else’s efforts, usu. deliberately; occas., see cit 1890, to ruin an object or place.

[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 47: Nanty coming it on a pall, or wid cracking to queer a pitch.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch ‘City Police Court’ 3 Oct. 234/1: The Mayor.– Prisoner at the bar [...] you are done for a ramp. I’ve queer’d your pitch and crab’d your game: and take care you don’t die in a horse’s night cap.
[UK]T. Frost Circus Life and Circus Celebrities 278: Any interruption of their feats, such as an accident, or the interference of a policeman, is said to queer the pitch.
[UK]J. Runciman Chequers 8: Don’t go and queer his pitch.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the ’Oliday Season’ Punch 16 Aug. 74/3: Wy, they’d queer the best pitches in life, if they kiboshed the Power of the Quid! There’s Venice.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘A Dual Ownership’ Sporting Times 4 Feb. 1/4: The culprit, convinced / That his pitch had been queered, kept provokingly cool.
[UK]C. Williams Master of Crime 108: Within half-an-hour the old butler would be back with the dog, and probably queer my pitch for the night.
[Ire]B. Duffy Rocky Road 49: ‘I say, old man,’ he said, ‘I’m sorry we queered your pitch.’.
[UK]L. Ortzen Down Donkey Row 168: So. That’s the game is it. Righto, mister Coster Dick, I’ll soon queer your pitch.
[Aus]G. Casey ‘Short Shift Saturday’ in Mann Coast to Coast 228: I wished I’d gone after Winch at lunch-time and smashed him up, queered his pitch for a while.
[UK]A. Christie Sparkling Cyanide (1955) 88: Why should he queer his own pitch?
[UK]P. Larkin letter 24 July in Thwaite Sel. Letters (1992) 245: I certainly don’t want to queer your pitch as an editor.
[UK]B. Reckord Skyvers I ii: cragge: What has swearing got to do with football? brook: But it might keep you off the side yet you go on doing it. You queer your own pitch don’t you?
[UK]N. Smith Gumshoe (1998) 102: Someone meant to queer the pitch for Straker.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 113: Wayne’s imploring look, his plea to Bomber not to queer his pitch.
[UK]Guardian Media 18 Oct. 6: To look at it selfishly, they’re queering my pitch.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 12: We don’t ask for nothing from them and we don’t take nothing. We’re not queering no one’s pitch.

2. (Aus.) as queer behave badly, to ‘go off the rails’.

[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Termarter Sorce’ Rose of Spadgers 36: I’ve never queered / The pitch in eight long years.
queer the game (v.) [game n. (6)]

to cause trouble for someone.

[US]E.W. Townsend Chimmie Fadden 70: I was tinking dat if I snook, dat it would queer Miss Fannie’s game, and I wouldn’t queer Miss Fannie’s game if I had t’ set up a funeral stid of a wedding.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ Snare of the Road 83: Have a heart and don’t queer my game, Tom.
queer the stifler (v.) (also queer the noose) [stifler n. (1)]

to escape the gallows.

[UK]W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 239: I think Handie Dandie and I may queer the stifler for all that is come and gone. [Ibid.] 308: If the b--- queers the noose, that silly cull will marry her.