Posted by Bruce Kahl on July 19, 2001
In Reply to: Origin of 'Queer Street' posted by James Briggs on July 19, 2001
: I think that I know the origin of this saying - traders putting a '?' against customers they thought were financially doubtful, but I'm not sure. Thoughts please.
E. Cobham Brewer 1810-1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
To live in Queer Street. To be of doubtful solvency. To be one marked in a tradesman's ledger with a quære (inquire), meaning, make inquiries about this customer.
That has put me in Queer Street. That has posed or puzzled me queerly. In this phrase queer means to puzzle; and Queer Street = puzzledom.