As queer as a clockwork orange

Writing in You’ve Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess on the subject of A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess states that

I had always liked the Cockney expression and felt there might be a meaning in it deeper than the bizarre metaphor of, not necessarily sexual, queerness.

There was almost certainly no such expression. The lexicographers and slang experts Eric Partridge and Jonathan Green found no trace of ‘As queer as a clockwork orange’ before Burgess.

The fact is, Burgess made it up. I particularly like the pun on the Malay اورڠ (orang), which, needless to say, no reviewer noticed when the novel came out.

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