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WORD OF THE DAY: QUIRK
noun | KWERK
What It Means
Quirk refers to an unusual habit or way of behaving. It can also refer to something strange that happens by chance, as in “a quirk of fate.”
// For an icebreaker, we were each asked to share a noteworthy quirk about ourselves. Mine was that I have to make sure every square of my waffles is buttered evenly before I eat them.
Examples of QUIRK
“The hip-hop legend [E-40] has been rapping for more than 30 years, carving his own corner of the rap world with his inimitable vocal quirks and a freewheeling cadence that made songs like ‘Sprinkle Me,’ ‘Tell Me When to Go,’ and ‘U and Dat’ transcendental hits.” — Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 28 Nov. 2023
Did You Know?
Those whose quirk is to zig while others zag (and conversely those who zag while others zig) will appreciate the origins of today’s word. Not its etymological origins, mind you—no one knows whence quirk came—but the twists and turns of its meanings across the centuries. The oldest known use of quirk dates to the mid-1500s, and referred to a clever verbal dodge of the kind one might use to turn the tables on someone in an argument or debate. It didn’t take long for quirk’s meaning to expand to cover all kinds of twisty, turn-y things, from witty retorts and curlicue flourishes made with ink on paper to the vagaries or twists of fate. The sense of quirk meaning “a peculiarity of action or behavior” refers to a twist of sorts as well, insofar as our quirks often flip others’ expectations of us, perhaps even causing them to quirk their eyebrows now and again. In a surprising twist, quirk began to be used as a verb meaning “to curve or twist” in the late 1800s.