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The "quare wan"

  • 19-07-2023 11:38pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5,715 ✭✭✭

    I've heard auld lads chatting away about all sorts but this phrase confuses me. When they're referring to a lady who is 40+ and still enjoys the ride they say she's "a quare wan" ie a queer one.

    Anyone know where this comes from?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,818 ✭✭✭pgj2015

    I dont think its 40+ women, I think its just any woman is a queer one to culchies. its not meant as an insult or anything.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,737 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Yeah I don’t think it’s a sexual reference or age group specific.

    just a way through slang of referring to the girlfriend / wife

    by the same token quarefella can be used by a woman to describe her boyfriend / husband..

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,900 ✭✭✭trashcan

    Brendan Behan had a play called The Quare Fella, if memory serves me right. Quare just meaning odd in old Dublin jargon.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,715 ✭✭✭pappyodaniel

    Definitely not meant to describe the wife in my experience. It's usually a single woman who's a bit "gamey" as the man says.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,695 ✭✭✭StupidLikeAFox

    Queer originally meant a bit strange or unusual. It simultaneously evolved into a byword/insult for gay people (which they have since reclaimed) and "quare" which is the same word in its original meaning but in an Irish dialect.

    "It's quare rainy" means it's unusually rainy, not that its raining men. Nothing got to do with gay people, unless they are talking about "the quares" which is indeed the entire LGBT community. Basically, if a guy is "a quare", then he is gay, but if he is a "quare sort of a lad" he is just a bit strange.

    "The quare one" is just a typical Irish way of describing something without describing anything - it could be the wife, the mistress, the boss, someone else's wife, a random woman who just passed by, a famous celebrity or a notorious axe murderer. All depends on the context where it is used.

    I can see how it would be quare confusing to get the head around it

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  • Registered Users Posts: 828 ✭✭✭mazdamiatamx5

    Am I the only one who is getting visions of the four lads drinking Guinness at the Lovely Girls competition?

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,731 ✭✭✭✭degrassinoel

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,559 ✭✭✭JayRoc

    Quare One just refers to a woman, any woman, in my experience.

    There doesn't have to be anything unusual or strange about her, which is a typically Irish contradiction.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,398 ✭✭✭Finty Lemon

    I believe the term originated in the slums of Dublin.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,477 ✭✭✭Montage of Feck

    As long as they all had a gay old time how bad?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,857 ✭✭✭Hangdogroad

    Quare just means unusual, strange. An Irish variation on Queer which used to mean odd, peculiar till it became more synonymous with gay.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,272 ✭✭✭✭cj maxx

    Quare is a different meaning to queer . Quare refers to good ,attractive etc . A Quare ride is a great ride.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,872 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    The original meaning certainly was "strange" (as in the original meaning of queer). Maybe it's become an antiphrasis.

    I've someone in my phone contacts as "The Quare Wan". She was an ex of a friend years ago. Certainly no ride.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,979 ✭✭✭Glaceon

    I often heard my dad use "quarefella" as a generic "yer man over there" type thing. Same sort of thing as yoke, didn't really have any specific meaning.

  • Registered Users Posts: 261 ✭✭Irish_wolf

    Pretty sure "quare" meaning very or extremely (as in it's quare good) comes from Yola and so is more of a south east type of thing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,972 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    Quare in Hiberno-English has two senses.

    The first sense is the same as one of the dominant English senses of queer — strange, odd, peculiar, eccentric.

    The second sense, found especially in the northern half of the country, is as a positive intensifier — "there was quare sport at the wedding", meaning the wedding was great fun. It sometimes intensifies another adjective in the form of quare and — "the day was quare and hot". Quare can be used in a generally positive way to mean "good" or "remarkable", as in "he's a quare dancer" or "that one is a quare singer".

    So, if someone is described as a quare wan, that could be because she is regarded as odd or eccentric, or because she is regarded with admiration or approval. You'd have to know the context to know which sense was intended, and why.

    In Behan's play, the Quare Fellow (who never appears) is a prisoner who is condemned to die. The play is set in Mountjoy prison and the action takes place in the period leading up to the Quare Fellow's hanging. Characters in the play refer to him as the Quare Fellow because, probably, they want to speak respectfully of a man who is about to die.

    There's no suggestion that the Quare Fellow is gay. There is another character in the play who is very camp and is probably homosexual (although that is never stated); he is "the Other Fellow".

  • Registered Users Posts: 253 ✭✭dom40

    i first heard this used in England in the mid 80s by the irishmen i worked with on the sites and on the roads,they always referred to their other halfs and wifes as the "quare one",I picked up this saying very quickly and still use it today as do a lot of my irish friends.Older generation now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,033 ✭✭✭Baybay

    The quare wan or the quare fella was regularly used by my parents especially when I was a child. Context was everything. Frequently it was used to converse about the subject of some local gossip or scandal which avoided using names in front of children but everyone knew who was meant. It was also used fondly to herald a welcome someone’s arrival up the lane, sometimes in reference to a parent or indeed also to speak of someone who was a little bit odd or maybe just not that well known. It was never sexual.

  • Registered Users Posts: 62 ✭✭BlueEyeGleams

    Stares n’ quares. Judgmental types

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,140 ✭✭✭✭elperello

    Some quare good explanations on this thread.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,736 ✭✭✭accensi0n

    My parents are from Wexford and that's how I grew up understanding it.