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queen

queen


queen  (kwn)
n.
1.
a. The wife or widow of a king.
b. A woman sovereign.
2. Something having eminence or supremacy in a given domain and personified as a woman: Paris is regarded as the queen of cities.
3. Abbr. Q Games
a. The most powerful chess piece, able to move in any direction over any number of empty squares in a straight line.
b. A playing card bearing the figure of a queen, ranking above the jack and below the king.
4. The fertile, fully developed female in a colony of social bees, ants, or termites.
5. A mature female cat, especially one kept for breeding purposes.
6. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a homosexual man.
v. queened, queen·ing, queens
v.tr.
1. To make (a woman) a queen.
2. Games To raise (a pawn) to queen in chess.
v.intr. Games
To become a queen in chess.
Idiom:
queen it
To act like a queen; domineer: queens it over the whole family.

[Middle English quene, from Old English cwn; see gwen- in Indo-European roots.]
Word History: Queen and quean sound alike, are spelled almost identically, and both refer to women, but of wildly different kinds. Queen comes from Old English cwn, pronounced (kwn), queen, wife of a king, and comes from Germanic *kwn-iz, woman, wife, queen. Quean comes from Old English cwene, pronounced (kwn), woman, female, female serf; from the eleventh century on it was also used to mean prostitute. The Germanic source of cwene is *kwen-n-, woman, wife. Once established, the pejorative sense of quean drove out its neutral senses and especially in the 16th and 17th centuries it was used almost solely to refer to prostitutes. Around the same time, in many English dialects the pronunciation of queen and quean became identical, leading to the obsolescence of the latter term except in some regions. · The Germanic root for both words, *kwen-, woman, comes by Grimms Law from the Indo-European root *gwen-, woman, which appears in at least two other English words borrowed from elsewhere in the Indo-European family. One is gynecology, from Greek gun, woman. Another, less obvious, one is banshee, woman of the fairies, the wailing female spirit attendant on a death, from Old Irish ben, woman.
queen

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