King comes from Old Norse konungr, and prince is from French principle, but I have found no definite etymology for queen as we know it. I have found assumptive connections such as to keenan and gna, but nothing definite.

Is there any definitive etymology on *queen?

closed as general reference by Hugo, Matt E. Эллен, tchrist, Robusto, user21497 Feb 7 '13 at 13:05

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    It comes from the PIE root *gʷen-. – John Lawler Feb 7 '13 at 4:24
  • Interestingly, in my native language Armenian, the same word has evolved to mean woman. կին /kin/ – Armen Ծիրունյան Feb 7 '13 at 12:04
  • @ArmenԾիրունյան Do you know whether this a "co-incidence" or do the English and Armenian have a common forebear? I have read somewhere (no reference, sorry) that the Moroccan Arabic word for "dog" is, by pure co-incidence, "dog". Or witness Japanese "so desu ka!" and other Japanese uses of "so" so like those in English and, of course, wholly co-incidental. – WetSavannaAnimal Oct 13 '13 at 23:32
  • @WetSavannaAnimalakaRodVance: Unlike Japanese or Arabic, Armenian is an Indo-European language, albeit a separate group. There are very many words in Armenian that come from PIE, including կին. – Armen Ծիրունյան Oct 14 '13 at 9:30

The Oxford English Dictionary online's first few lines of the etymology of queen are as follows:

Cognate with Old Saxon quān wife, Old Icelandic kván wife, (in poetry) queen (also as kvæn ), Gothic qens woman < an ablaut variant (lengthened grade) of the Indo-European base of quean n.; compare Sanskrit jāni wife.

In Old English a strong feminine, the reflex of the genitive singular of which (Old English cwēne ) occas. survives into early Middle English (compare quene in quot. c1325 at sense 2), although levelling of the genitive singular in -es is found as early as the first half of the 12th cent. (compare quot. lOE2 at sense 2).

My ling professor says the OED online is pretty much the definitive source for etymology of the English language. However you will have to have an account I believe to access the website. I would think most universities have accounts.

"queen, n.". OED Online. December 2012. Oxford University Press. 7 February 2013 http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/156212?rskey=0XwDuT&result=1&isAdvanced=false.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.