From Middle English werde, wierde, wirde, wyrede, wurde, from Old English wyrd (“fate”), from Proto-West Germanic *wurdi, from Proto-Germanic *wurdiz, from Proto-Indo-European *wert- (“to turn, wind”). Cognate with Icelandic urður (“fate”). Related to Old English weorþan (“to become”). Doublet of wyrd. More at worth.
Weird was obsolete by the 16th century in English. It survived in Middle Scots, whence Shakespeare borrowed it in naming the Weird Sisters (original spelling Weyward Sisters, the Three Witches), reintroducing it to English. The senses “abnormal”, “strange” etc. arose via reinterpretation of Weird Sisters and date from after this reintroduction.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈwɪə(ɹ)d/, /ˈwiːə(ɹ)d/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈwiɚd/, /ˈwɪɚd/
Audio (US) (file) Audio (AU) (file) Audio (UK) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɪə(ɹ)d
- Having an unusually strange character or behaviour.
- Deviating from the normal; bizarre.
- Relating to weird fiction ("a macabre subgenre of speculative fiction").
- a weird story
- 1978, Jeffrey Helterman, Richard Layman, editors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 2: American Novelists Since World War II, Detroit, M.A.: Gale Research Company, →ISBN, page 62, column 1:
- In his introduction to the 1955 volume, [Ray] Bradbury singles out these stories as oddities in his canon — he wrote this kind of tale before his twenty-sixth birthday (1946), and rarely since. They are pure fantasy of the "weird" sort and include some of Bradbury's most striking pieces: "The Scythe" (1943), "The Lake" (1944), "The Jar" (1944), "Skeleton" (1945), and "The Small Assassin" (1946)
- (archaic) Of or pertaining to the Fates.
- Synonym: fateful
- (Can we find and add a quotation to this entry?)
- (archaic) Connected with fate or destiny; able to influence fate.
- (archaic) Of or pertaining to witches or witchcraft; supernatural; unearthly; suggestive of witches, witchcraft, or unearthliness; wild; uncanny.
- c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene v], page 134, column 1:
- Whiles I ſtood rapt in the wonder of it, came Miſſiues from the King, who all-hail'd me Thane of Cawdor, by which Title before, these weyward Sisters saluted me, and referr'd me to the comming on of time, with haile, King that ſhalt be.
- 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide:
- It may be in that dark hour at the burn-foot, before the spate caught her, she had been given grace to resist her adversary and fling herself upon God's mercy. And it would seem that it had been granted; for when he came to the Skerburnfoot, there in the corner sat the weird wife Alison, dead as a stone.
- 1912, Victor Whitechurch, Thrilling Stories of the Railway:
- Naphtha lamps shed a weird light over a busy scene, for the work was being continued night and day. A score or so of sturdy navvies were shovelling and picking along the track.
- (archaic) Having supernatural or preternatural power.
weird (plural weirds)
- (archaic) Fate; destiny; luck.
- 1965, Poul Anderson, The Corridors of Time, page 226:
- Step by reluctant step, he had come to know his weird. The North must be saved from her.
- A prediction.
- (obsolete, Scotland) A spell or charm.
- Synonym: enchantment
- 1813, Walter Scott, The Bridal of Triermain:
- Thou shalt bear thy penance lone
In the Valley of Saint John,
And this weird shall overtake thee
- That which comes to pass; a fact.
- (archaic, in the plural, personification) The Fates.
- Synonym: Norns
- (informal) Weirdness.
- 2019, Justin Blackburn, The Bisexual Christian Suburban Failure Enlightening Bipolar Blues, page 33:
- You know why it feels so good to be amongst real friends? They allow you to be your weird and love you for it. Imagine how it would feel to freely let your weird out and have the world love you for it.
- (transitive) To destine; doom; change by witchcraft or sorcery.
- (transitive) To warn solemnly; adjure.
weird (not comparable)
- (nonstandard) In a strange manner. [from 1970s]
As an adverb, weird is only used to modify verbs, and is always positioned after the verb it modifies. Unlike weirdly, it cannot modify an adjective (as in "She was weirdly generous.") or an entire sentence (as in "Weirdly, no-one spoke up.").
- “weird”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
- “weird”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
- “weird, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
- “weird, adj.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
- “weird, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
- Jonathon Green (2023), “weird adj.”, in Green's Dictionary of Slang
- Jesse Sheidlower, editor (2001–2023), “weird, adj.”, in Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.
- Jesse Sheidlower, editor (2001–2023), “weird, n.”, in Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.
weird (plural weirds)
- Alternative form of
weird (plural weirds)
- fate, fortune, destiny, one's own particular fate or appointed lot
- event destined to happen, a god's decree, omen, prophecy, prediction
- wizard, warlock, one having deep or supernatural skill or knowledge