"woman;" Skt. janis "a woman," gná "wife of a god, a goddess;" Avestan jainish "wife;" Armenian kin "woman;" O.C.S. zena, O.Pruss. genna "woman;" Goth. qino "a woman, wife; qéns "a queen"). English seems unique in I.E. in having a word for "queen" that is not a fem. derivative of the one for "king." The original sense seems to have been "wife," specialized by O.E. to "wife of a king." Used of chess piece from 1440, of playing card from 1575. Of bees from 1609 (until late 17c., they generally were thought to be kings; cf. "Henry V," I.ii). Meaning "male homosexual" (especially a feminine and ostentatious one) first recorded 1924; probably an alteration of quean
in this sense. Queens, the New York borough, was named for Catherine of Braganza, queen of English King Charles II. Queen Anne first used 1878 for "style characteristic of the time of Queen Anne of Great Britain and Ireland," who reigned 1702-14.