nouninformal, chiefly derogatory
verb[with object] informal
early 16th century: considered to be from German quer 'oblique, perverse', but the origin is doubtful
The word queer was first used to mean ‘homosexual’ in the early 20th century: it was originally, and usually still is, a deliberately offensive and aggressive term when used by heterosexual people. In recent years, however, some gay people have taken the word queer and deliberately used it in place of gay or homosexual, in an attempt, by using the word positively, to deprive it of its negative power. This use of queer is now well established and widely used among gay people (especially as an adjective or noun modifier, as in queer rights; queer-bashing) and at present exists alongside the other use.