queen [kween] Word Origin noun

  1. a female sovereign or monarch.
  2. the wife or consort of a king.
  3. a woman, or something personified as a woman, that is foremost or preeminent in any respect: a movie queen; a beauty queen; Athens, the queen of the Aegean.
    1. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.a contemptuous term used to refer to a male homosexual, especially one who is flamboyantly campy or effeminate.
    2. drag queen.
  4. a playing card bearing a picture of a queen.
  5. Chess. the most powerful piece of either color, moved across any number of empty squares in any direction.
  6. Entomology. a fertile female ant, bee, termite, or wasp.
  7. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter Q.

verb (used without object)

  1. to reign as queen.
  2. to behave in an imperious or pretentious manner (usually followed by it).
  3. Chess. to become promoted to a queen.

Origin of queen before 900; Middle English quene, quen, Old English cwēn woman, queen; cognate with Old Saxon quān, Old Norse kvān, Gothic qēns Germanic *kwēni-; akin to Old Irish ben, Greek gynḗ woman, Russian zhená, Sanskrit jani wifeRelated formsqueen·less, adjectivequeen·like, adjectiveun·der·queen, noun British Dictionary definitions for queen it queen noun

  1. a female sovereign who is the official ruler or head of state
  2. the wife or widow of a king
  3. a woman or a thing personified as a woman considered the best or most important of her kinda beauty queen; the queen of ocean liners
  4. 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
  5. an adult female cat
  6. one of four playing cards in a pack, one for each suit, bearing the picture of a queen
  7. 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


  1. chess to promote (a pawn) to a queen when it reaches the eighth rank
  2. (tr) to crown as queen
  3. (intr) informal (of a gay man) to flaunt one’s homosexuality
  4. (intr) to reign as queen
  5. queen it (often foll by over) informal to behave in an overbearing manner

Word Origin for queen Old English cwēn; related to Old Saxon quān wife, Old Norse kvæn, Gothic qēns wife Queen noun

  1. 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

Word Origin and History for queen it queen n.

Old English cwen “queen, female ruler of a state, woman, wife,” from Proto-Germanic *kwoeniz (cf. Old Saxon quan “wife,” Old Norse kvaen, Gothic quens), ablaut variant of *kwenon (source of quean), from PIE *gwen- “woman, wife” supposedly originally “honored woman” (cf. Greek gyné “a woman, a wife;” Gaelic bean “woman;” Sanskrit janis “a woman,” gná “wife of a god, a goddess;” Avestan jainish “wife;” Armenian kin “woman;” Old Church Slavonic zena, Old Prussian genna “woman;” Gothic qino “a woman, wife; qéns “a queen”).

The original sense seems to have been “wife,” specialized by Old English to “wife of a king.” In Old Norse, still mostly of a wife generally, e.g. kvan-fang “marriage, taking of a wife,” kvanlauss “unmarried, widowed,” kvan-riki “the domineering of a wife.” English is one of the 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: Old Norse drottning, Danish dronning, Swedish drottning “queen,” in Old Norse also “mistress,” but these also are held to be ultimately from male words, e.g. Old Norse drottinn “master.”

Used of chess piece from mid-15c. (as a verb in chess, in reference to a pawn that has reached the last rank, from 1789), 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); queen bee in a figurative sense is from 1807. Meaning “male homosexual” (especially a feminine and ostentatious one) first certainly recorded 1924; probably here an alteration of quean, which is earlier 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. Cincinnati, Ohio, has been the Queen City (of the West) since 1835.

Idioms and Phrases with queen it queen it

Act like a queen, domineer, as in She queened it over the family, treating her siblings like servants. This female counterpart of lord it over was used by Shakespeare in The Winter’s Tale (4:4). [c. 1600]

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