queen


queen
queen (n.) O.E. cwen "queen, female ruler of a state, woman, wife," from P.Gmc. *kwoeniz, ablaut variant of *kwenon (source of QUEAN (Cf. quean)), from PIE *gwen- "woman, wife" supposedly originally "honored woman" (Cf. Greek gyné "a woman, a wife;" Gaelic 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").
The original sense seems to have been "wife," specialized by Old English to "wife of a king." Used of chess piece from mid-15c., of playing card from 1570s. Of bees from c.1600 (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 (Cf. quean) in this sense. Queen Anne first used 1878 for "style characteristic of the time of Queen Anne of Great Britain and Ireland," who reigned 1702-14.
English is one of the very few Indo-European languages to have a word for "queen" that is not a feminine derivative of a word for "king." The others are Scandinavian: O.N. drottning, Dan. dronning, Swed. drottning "queen," in Old Norse also "mistress," fem. of O.N. drottinn "master."

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • Queen — Queen, n. [OE. quen, quene, queen, quean, AS. cw[=e]n wife, queen, woman; akin to OS. qu[=a]n wife, woman, Icel. kv[=a]n wife, queen, Goth. q[=e]ns. [root]221. See {Quean}.] 1. The wife of a king. [1913 Webster] 2. A woman who is the sovereign of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • queen — [kwēn] n. [ME quen < OE cwen: see QUEAN] 1. the wife of a king 2. a woman who rules over a monarchy in her own right; female sovereign 3. a woman foremost or judged to be foremost among others in certain attributes or accomplishments, as… …   English World dictionary

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