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 www.dictionary.com (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 www.dictionary.com 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?