Green’s Dictionary of Slang

quean n.

also queanie
[11C SE quean, woman (with no pej. aspect); Nares, Glossary (1822), suggests OE cwean, a barren cow]

1. a strumpet, a prostitute.

[Scot]Dunbar ‘Flyting of Dunbar & Kennedy’ in Laing Poems (1834) II 71: Ersch Katharine, with thy polk breik, and rilling, Thow and thy Quene, as gredy gleddis, ye gang With polkis to mylne, and beggis baith meill and schilling.
[UK]Palsgrave Lesclarcissement de la Langue Francoyse n.p.: Substances: Queane, garse, paillarde.
[UK]J. Heywood Play of Weather in Farmer Dramatic Writings (1905) 123: It is the gise of such gross queans as thou art.
[Scot]D. Lyndsay Satyre of Thrie Estaits II (1604) 139: Ane curtill queine, and laidlie lurdane, Of strang wesche scho will tak ane iurdane.
[UK]Udall Ralph Roister Doister in Dodsley III (1874) IV viii: Down with this little quean, that hath at me such spite!
[UK]Nice Wanton Biiii: Suche a jade she is and so curst a quene, She would out scold the deuils dame.
[UK]‘Mr. S’ Gammer Gurton’s Needle in Whitworth (1997) II iv: A subtle quean as any in this town.
[UK]B. Riche Farewell to Military Profession (1992) 312: How canst thou, shameless quean, deny that.
[UK]Greene Disputation Betweene a Hee and a Shee Conny-Catcher in Grosart (1881–3) X 173: This fellow he had heard to be one of the finest Nippers about the towne, and euer carried his queane with him.
[UK]Middleton Trick to Catch the Old One III iv: Hold thy prating: I answer thee, thou art a beggar, a quean, and a bawd.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Iacke a Lent’ in Works (1869) I 117: Bawling queans that use to sell and buy.
[UK]Massinger Unnatural Combat IV ii: A smart quean.
[UK]T. Cranley (prisoner) Amanda or the Reformed Whore 23: Young bold-fac’t Queanes, and old fore-ridden Jades.
[UK]H. Mill Nights Search letter by Chamberlain: There’s not a drunkard, filthy quean, or scum, That’s left unpunisht.
[UK]‘Du Parc’ (trans.) Comical Hist. of Francion Bk i 8: Goe, Hussy, thou art the boldest quean in the World.
[UK] ‘Panche’ in Furnivall & Hales Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript of Loose and Humorous Songs (1868) 62: Quoth he, ‘thou drabb! thou filthy Queane!
[UK]Holborn Drollery 36: Venus at him once did Rant, And like a scolding Quean did brawl.
[UK]Behn Rover III ii: Blunt. [N]ow to Damning and Cursing,—but if that would ease me, where shall I begin? with my Fortune, my self, or the Quean that cozen’d me.
Mennis & Smith et al. ‘Sawnies Neglect’ Wit and Drollery 321: Now he dotes on the Copper Lace / Of some leud Quean of London Town.
[UK]M. Pix Innocent Mistress III ii: Ye lie, ye damned quean, he is here, ha, and his minion with him. Let me come at her!
[UK]A great & famous scoldling-match 3: [Y]ou nasty Baudy foul-mouth’d Quean you.
[UK]M. Pix Adventures in Madrid III i: Get you in ye sawcy Quean.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 255: The Quean my Wife will gad abroad, whilst I meet ev’ry where Derision.
‘Whipping-Tom’ Extravagancy of a Lady’s Toilet II 54: If a Man marries a curs’d scolding Quean, he is wedded to the Devil.
[UK]C. Coffey Devil to Pay I iii: Where is this Quean? – Here, Nell!
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. n.p.: Quean a Whore, or Slut. A dirty Quean, a very Puzzel or Slut.
[Scot]Gentleman’s Bottle-Companion 63: Kissing queans, and then a whore, / Live the rakes of Maloe.
[UK]Sheridan School For Scandal III iii: Here’s to the flaunting extravagant quean.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]A. Shirrefs Jamie and Bess II i: Gin ye’re wise ye will keep clear o’ Bess, / She is a sly and cunning quean.
[Ire] ‘What a Beau your Granny was’ Luke Caffrey’s Gost 3: This little quain, with love inflam’d/ After we had a chearful glass; / She laugh’d to see a tool so tame, / Saying, what a Beau your Granny was.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 332: A drunken ragged scolding quean / By a large circle of the boys / Pursued.
[Scot]A. Douglas ‘First day of Hairst’ Poems in Scot. Dialect 126: A gipsie quean cam’ to the place [...] She whisper’d, ‘Dear, I’m wae for you, I’ll put you to your bed.’ / Syne aff his coat an’ shoon she drew, / An’ took what cash he had.
[Scot]W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 175: What did ye wi’ your wedding ring, ye little cutty quean, O?
‘Humours of Glasgow Fair’ [broadsheet ballad] Now Willock had trysted wi’ Jennie, / For she was a braw canty Quean.
[UK]D. Fenning Universal Spelling Book 54: Quean, a worthless woman.
[US]Flash (NY) 31 Oct. n.p.: Jane is a large, heavy Dutch-built quean.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 18 July 2/6: The luckless Quean rewarded the exploit with a go of jackey and became elevated.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 386: Go to, you naughty queans! [...] Go and mend you ways.
[UK]G.A. Sala Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous 243: A most frivolous Quean this, and I well rid of her.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 7: Quean - A strumpet. In Scotland, a low woman.
A. Morse Earle Curious Punishments 16: In Scotland ‘flyting queans’ sat in ignominy in cucking-stools. Bessie Spens was admonished: London Quean.
[US]Babs Gonzales ‘Manhattan Fable’ 🎵 So, Eddie was off the scene, his jeans was clean, and he didn’t cop his quean.
[US]R. Todasco Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Dirty Words.

2. a (passive) homosexual.

[US]I.L. Pavia Jahrbuch für Sexuelle Zwischenstufen No. 11 41: Bitch, quean, mehr oder minder schmeichelhafte Bezeichnungen für homosexuelle Männer.
(con. WWI) A.E. Strong in Partridge Sl. Today and Yesterday 287: Joe. He was a quean to look at, yet he produced.
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 137: I have a perfect armorplating against elderly queans.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 20 June 77: Drinks at a gay pub called ‘Fitzroy’ which really is the gayest pub I know. Charming. Full of sailors and queans with prying eyes and inquisitive nostrils — all searching for some new sensation.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 237/2: quean – a sissyfied or dandyfied man or a ‘homo’. [Ibid.] queanie – a softie.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 33: Morries and aged queans beating each other black and blue.
[US]San Diego Sailor 69: One of those dessicated queans who keep themselves together with astringents and creams.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US]M. Houlbrook Sun among Cities intro. 17: The quean’s difference lay in his womanlike character.
[UK]P. Baker Fabulosa 296/2: queen, quean a gay man.

3. an afficionado of sado-masochism.

[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 58: Malts, spades, bubbles and the queans that beat ‘er black an’ blue.

In derivatives

queanish (adj.) (also queenish)


[UK]Rowlands Night Raven 23: An ill Liver is my discontent, But none can help it better than my wife If she would seeke to mend her queenish life.

In compounds

In phrases