askance

You may have trouble looking directly at the human specimens onstage at the freak show, but you also won't be able to look away. Find a happy medium by looking askance, or subtly out of the corner of your eye.

First used in the 1500's, no one is quite sure where the cockeyed, slanting adverb askance came from. Some people suspect that it evolved from the Latin a scancio, meaning “obliquely, slantingly,” while others argue that it’s just a variant of the word askew. How fitting for a word that describes a suspicious or distrusting manner of looking that we can't trace its etymology with any surety.

Definitions of askance
1

adv with suspicion or disapproval

“he looked askance at the offer”

adv with a side or oblique glance

“did not quite turn all the way back but looked askance at me with her dark eyes”

adj (used especially of glances) directed to one side with or as if with doubt or suspicion or envy

“"her eyes with their misted askance look"- Elizabeth Bowen”
Synonyms:
askant, asquint, sidelong, squint, squint-eyed, squinty
indirect
not direct in spatial dimension; not leading by a straight line or course to a destination

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.