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[kween] /kwin/
Ellery, joint pen name of Manfred Bennington Lee and Frederic Dannay. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for e. queen


a female sovereign who is the official ruler or head of state
the wife or widow of a king
a woman or a thing personified as a woman considered the best or most important of her kind a beauty queen, the queen of ocean liners
(slang) an effeminate male homosexual
  1. the only fertile female in a colony of social insects, such as bees, ants, and termites, from the eggs of which the entire colony develops
  2. (as modifier) a queen bee
an adult female cat
one of four playing cards in a pack, one for each suit, bearing the picture of a queen
a chess piece, theoretically the most powerful piece, able to move in a straight line in any direction or diagonally, over any number of squares
(chess) to promote (a pawn) to a queen when it reaches the eighth rank
(transitive) to crown as queen
(intransitive) (informal) (of a gay man) to flaunt one's homosexuality
(intransitive) to reign as queen
(often foll by over) (informal) queen it, to behave in an overbearing manner
Word Origin
Old English cwēn; related to Old Saxon quān wife, Old Norse kvæn, Gothic qēns wife


Ellery (ˈɛlərɪ). pseudonym of Frederic Dannay (1905–82) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–71), US co-authors of detective novels featuring a sleuth also called Ellery Queen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for e. queen
O.E. cwen "queen, female ruler of a state, woman, wife," from P.Gmc. *kwoeniz, ablaut variant of *kwenon (source of quean), from PIE *gwen- "woman, wife" supposedly originally "honored woman" (cf. Greek gyné "a woman, a wife;" Gaelic span class="foreign">bean "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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for e. queen


  1. A woman, esp a wealthy and gracious one: Wouldn't it be luck if some ritzy queen fell for him! (1900+)
  2. A male homosexual, esp one who ostentatiously takes a feminine role: The queens look great strutting along the boardwalk (1924+ Homosexuals)

(also queen it) To behave in a refined and haughty way (1611+)

Related Terms

closet queen, drag queen, main queen, size queen, tearoom queen, toe-jam queen

[homosexual sense probably a late 1800s alteration of quean, ''harlot, prostitute,'' influenced by connotations of queen, ''aged, dignified, tawdry, and overadorned'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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e. queen in the Bible

No explicit mention of queens is made till we read of the "queen of Sheba." The wives of the kings of Israel are not so designated. In Ps. 45:9, the Hebrew for "queen" is not _malkah_, one actually ruling like the Queen of Sheba, but _shegal_, which simply means the king's wife. In 1 Kings 11:19, Pharaoh's wife is called "the queen," but the Hebrew word so rendered (g'birah) is simply a title of honour, denoting a royal lady, used sometimes for "queen-mother" (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chron. 15:16). In Cant. 6:8, 9, the king's wives are styled "queens" (Heb. melakhoth). In the New Testament we read of the "queen of the south", i.e., Southern Arabia, Sheba (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31) and the "queen of the Ethiopians" (Acts 8:27), Candace.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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