Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quirky vs. Weird

While browsing online the other day I stumbled upon an interview with Zooey Deschanel in the new issue of Lucky. In it the famous-for-being-unconventional actress reveals that she hates being referred to as quirky. "It's an annoying word," Deschanel says. "Quirky is like a nice way of saying weird."

As someone who often uses the word quirky to describe my wares on Etsy, I was intrigued by the relationship between it and its shadowy relative, "weird." So I clicked over to to (where I go for all my word nerd needs) to get the scoop. Here's what I found:

quirky - Having or full of quirks. Related words: far-out, kinky, off-beat, way-out

quirk - 1) An individual peculiarity of character; mannerism or foible. 2) An unexpected twist or turn. 3) A continuous groove in an architectural moulding. 4) A flourish, as in handwriting.

weird - 1) Involving or suggesting the supernatural; unearthly or uncanny. 2) Fantastic; bizarre. Synonyms: unnatural, preternatural, eerie, unearthly, uncanny

I was surprised that "weird" didn't have a third, more down-to-earth meaning, such as "(one of these things is) not like the others" a la "Sesame Street," or maybe even "(lime) doesn't fit in. And likes it that way," per a Lifesavers magazine ad circa 2000. Yet firmly roots the popular adjective in the realm of the paranormal. That having been said, I suppose I can see why Zooey may not want to be linked to it via its almost-synonym quirky. But I don't think there's anything wrong with being called quirky in and of itself. There's something kind of charming about having "an individual peculiarity of character," isn't there?


Maggy Slater @ Deco Aurora said...

One of my corporate managers at work called me quirky and said I didn't fit the mold. I took offense to this because she totally meant it in a demeaning way. I know that alot of people may nto get my way of going through life. But then again I don't get theirs either. I got voted most unique in High school and I thought that was a nicer way of saying "Most strange chick". haha. I have always used my unique nature to my advantage though.

SparkleFarkle said...

You can borrow these "Words to Live By" from me if you want: God is great, weird is good, and people are crazy.

The Tote Trove said...

Wow. I think I would've burst into tears if that had happened to me. On the flip side, it must have been a great compliment to be voted "most unique" in high school - even if they did mean "most strange chick." Heck, that's a compliment in and of itself :)

The Tote Trove said...

Thanks, Sparkle. Truer words were never spoken :)