Quean Is a Word with Friends?

When you’re in business for yourself, particularly if the inspiration for that business started out as a hobby, it can become increasingly difficult to find the separation between work and play. That said, keeping these two worlds completely separate might not even be in your best interest. For me, as a freelance writer, much of my “play” is also beneficial for my “work,” as it can help me discover new words… like quean. No, that’s not a typo.

Work and Play Are All the Same

After all these years, one of my favorite casual games to play on my smartphone is still Words with Friends. It’s basically an unlicensed knockoff of Scrabble, but its biggest appeal for me is the asynchronous gameplay with my online friends. We can play a game together, taking our turns at our leisure rather than having to play against one another in real time. As a writer, “playing” with words is both fun and educational.

Every once in a while, either I or one of my friends will play a word with which I am not familiar. A big part of this has to do with strategy, of course, trying to form as many words in one turn as possible or trying to stretch those tiles over to the bonus spaces. Over time, I’ve come to really appreciate extra short words like oxo, qi and za. Yes, “za” is an official word in the Words with Friends dictionary and it’s defined as being a short form of “pizza.”

What Does “Quean” Even Mean?

The other day, a friend of mine played the word “quean” against me. Even as I type that now on my computer, it’s being highlighted as a spelling mistake… but “quean” really is a word.

From what I can gather, “quean” is an archaic term that started out referring to a young, unmarried woman. As time went on, it came to refer to a “robust” woman who is disreputable and “overly forward.” An equivalent modern term might be a hussy or a seductress. A “quean” can also refer much more specifically to a prostitute.

This is quite different from “queen,” referring to the wife of a king or a female sovereign herself, even though both terms are pronounced exactly the same way.

More Tools in the Toolbox

It’s not very likely that “quean” will come up in my writing any time soon, as it will likely leave my readers just as nonplussed as I was when I first encountered it, but it’s always beneficial as a writer to expand my vocabulary. Do you have a favorite obscure word that most other people don’t know?