The Meaning of Quirky: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of quirky? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word quirky, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word quirky mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as sources like Collins English Dictionary and American Heritage, the word quirky is an adjective that refers to someone or something that is idiosyncratic or has many quirks in an interesting or appealing way. Quirk is also used in architecture to refer to a lengthwise groove on a molding between the convex upper part and the soffit. You might hear this word used in the phrases a quirk of fate referring to an unaccountable act or vagary and quirk of the head. We all have our own quirks, but someone who is quirky might have a particularly awkward manner about them, a peculiarity of behavior or an idiosyncrasy to them. One can add the suffixes er and est to create the words quirkier and quirkiest. Quirky has two syllables – quir-ky. The pronunciation of quirky is ˈkwɜːrki. 

Many other languages also contain words that mean quirky. You may notice that some of these words look quite similar to one another. This is likely because they share a common origin. Often, cognates, which are words and phrases that look, sound and mean similar things across languages, are formed when two words have a shared ancestral language such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word quirky is provided by Word Sense but you could also find translations in something like a Spanish Dictionary, French electronic resource or German Dictionary. 

  •  Armenian: իդիոսինկրատիկ‎
  •  French: singulier‎ (masc.), particulier‎ (masc.), idiosyncratique‎
  •  Polish: specyficzny‎ (masc.)
  •  Serbo-Croatian: idiosinkratičan‎, specifičan‎, karakterističan‎
  •  Estonian: idiosünkraatiline‎, isikuomane‎
  •  Hungarian: sajátos‎
  •  German: eigenartig‎, eigentümlich‎
  •  Swedish: idiosynkratisk‎, säregen‎, egenartad‎
  •  Norwegian:
  •  Italian: idiosincrasico‎, idiosincratico‎
  •  Bokmål: idiosynkratisk‎
  •  Scottish Gaelic: sònraichte‎
  •  Catalan: idiosincràtic‎
  •  Portuguese: idiossincrásico‎, idiossincrático‎
  •  Romanian: idiosincratic‎, idiosincrazic‎
  •  Spanish: idiosincrásico‎
  •  Russian: персона́льный‎
  •  Dutch: eigenzinnig‎, eigenaardig‎, idiosyncratisch‎, karakteristiek‎

What is the origin of the word quirky?

According to Etymonline, the word quirky has been used since 1806 to mean shifty or irregular, and to mean idiosyncratic since 1960. Quirkish was used in the 1670s and comes from the word quirk. One can add the suffixes ly and ness to create the related words quirkily (adv.) and quirkiness (n.). Quirk is of an origin unknown but may come from the German quer in relation to the notion of twists, slanting, or a sudden sharp turn. This may be where we get the related words quibble and queer. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for quirky?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word quirky. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself as well as if you would like to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word quirky is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  idiosyncratic
  •  freakish
  •  unorthodox
  •  out of the ordinary
  •  way-out
  •  outre
  •  weird
  •  kinky
  •  unconventional
  •  bizarre
  •  peculiar
  •  off-the-wall
  •  wacky
  •  unusual
  •  far out
  •  strange
  •  freaky
  •  in left field
  •  odd
  •  eccentric

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word quirky, which are called antonyms. Antonyms are useful to know when you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word quirky is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  natural
  •  orderly
  •  typic
  •  standard
  •  general
  •  regular
  •  unexceptional
  •  median
  •  usual
  •  run-of-the-mill
  •  ordinary
  •  commonplace
  •  habitual
  •  typical
  •  common
  •  popular
  •  prevalent
  •  routine
  •  customary
  •  accustomed
  •  average
  •  acknowledged
  •  conventional
  •  traditional
  •  mean
  •  normal
  •  methodical

How can the word quirky be used in a sentence?

The word quirky can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also try making flashcards or quizzes for yourself. Below are several examples of quirky. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today!

He played the cello and piano in a quirky time signature, with the main thread of the movement being achingly slow compared to the rest of the piece.

The eccentric young girl gave a quirky smile to her best friend, who gave a grin back. Her welcoming spirit helped the shy young boy come out of his shell. They had a secret connection like no one else and would fill entire pages with their own language. In this diverse world, they found one another.

Austin is a quirky town with a vibrant arts scene, excellent dining scene and eclectic nightlife. We decided to move here because of the awesome vibes, low cost, and nice people. We have never been happier. 

Professor Lorenz from Princeton University is very quirky, but she is also extremely knowledgeable. I decided to register for her class three different times because she always taught on a new topic. I learn something new every time, and she is so entertaining. 

I saw some quirky advertisements in the classifieds section of the paper. Some were scams for joining professional sports teams, meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, and learning to be a copyright attorney in the pages of Apple Daily.

Miss Hampton saw Cash’s beard quiver as the corners of his mouth formed a quirky grin. They played barrelhouse runs on the piano and had flashbacks to when they had first met in an apartment the size of a matchbox.

Overall, the word quirky means idiosyncratic or unusual in a good way. This word is of unknown origin, but is possible Germanic in root.

Sources:

  1. quirky: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. QUIRKY Synonyms: 26 Synonyms & Antonyms for QUIRKY | Thesaurus 
  3. NORMAL Synonyms: 72 Synonyms & Antonyms for NORMAL | Thesaurus 
  4. quirky | Origin and meaning of quirky | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Quirky | Definition of Quirky | Merriam-Webster