Word of the Day Archive
Saturday November 5, 2011
1. An overly forward, impudent woman; shrew; hussy.
2. A prostitute.
3. British Dialect. A girl or young woman, especially a robust one.
I answer thee, thou art a beggar, a quean, and a bawd.
-- Thomas Middleton, Five Plays
Had I had my own will, I would have had her to Bridewell, to flog the wild blood out of her—a cutty quean, to think of wearing the breeches, and not so much as married yet!
-- Sir Walter Scott, Waverley Novels
Quean, predictably, is rooted in the same Old English word that queen comes from, the word cwen which meant woman.