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Origin of 'Queer Street'

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.
Queer Street.
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.