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See also: Quirk



Etymology 1[edit]

First attested in the 1540s. Of uncertain origin. Possibly from Middle English *querk, from Old Norse kverk (a bend or angle, especially below a cross-beam or below the chin, the bight of an axe", also "throat, gullet), from Proto-Germanic *kwerkō (throat, gullet), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷerh₃- (to devour; maw). Cognate with Scots querk (throat", also "any hollow in the body, such as an armpit, groin, instep, etc.), Icelandic kverk (interior angle). Also partially from dialectal quirk, querk (a whim, fancy, fuss, huff, complaint", also "to peevishly grumble, grunt, sigh, croak, die), from Middle English querken, *quirken (to choke), from Old Norse kvirkja (to choke, strangle), from the same origin above. Related to dialectal querken, quirken (to choke). Likely not related to queer.


quirk (plural quirks)

  1. An idiosyncrasy; a slight glitch, mannerism; something unusual about the manner or style of something or someone.
    The car steers cleanly, but the gearshift has a few quirks.
  2. (architecture) An acute angle dividing a molding; a groove that runs lengthwise between the upper part of a moulding and a soffit.
  3. (archaic) A quibble, evasion, or subterfuge.
    • 1605 (first performance), Beniamin Ionson [i.e., Ben Jonson], “Volpone, or The Foxe. A Comœdie. []”, in The Workes of Beniamin Ionson (First Folio), London: [] Will[iam] Stansby, published 1616, →OCLC:
      Had you no quirk / To avoid gullage, sir, by such a creature?
    • 1657, Samuel Purchas, “[The Second Part. Being Meditations and Observations, Theologicall, and Morall, upon the Nature of Bees.] The First Century.”, in A Theatre of Politicall Flying-Insects. [], London: [] M. S. for Thomas Parkhurst, [], →OCLC, section II, page 258:
      Let us not be too curious in prying into Gods arke, leaſt vve ſmart like the flie fluttering about the candle, for God is a conſuming fire to thoſe that vvill be ſporting themſelves in the quirks of their vvit about his ſacred myſteries.
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Related terms[edit]


quirk (third-person singular simple present quirks, present participle quirking, simple past and past participle quirked)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To (cause to) move with a wry jerk.
    He quirked an eyebrow.
    The corners of her mouth quirked.
    • 2017, Jane Gloriana Villanueva, Snow Falling, page 203:
      He quirked his lips playfully.
  2. (transitive, architecture) To furnish with a quirk or channel.
  3. To alter in a unique and unusual way.
    • 1968, Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2nd edition, London: Fontana Press, published 1993, page 19:
      But in the dream the forms are quirked by the peculiar troubles of the dreamer, whereas in myth the problems and solutions shown are directly valid for all mankind.
  4. (intransitive, archaic) To use verbal tricks or quibbles.
    • 1820, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Oedipus Tyrannus; Or, Swellfoot The Tyrant: A Tragedy in Two Acts:
      I have stung her and wrung her,
      The venom is working;—
      And if you had hung her
      With canting and quirking,
      She could not be deader than she will be soon

Etymology 2[edit]


quirk (third-person singular simple present quirks, present participle quirking, simple past and past participle quirked)

  1. Alternative form of querk
Derived terms[edit]