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Commonly Confused Words: Cue vs. Queue


What does each word mean?

The word cue had two meanings:

  1. a tapered wooden rod (used to strike a ball in pool or billiards), and
  2. a signal or reminder (usually given to an actor who has forgotten his or her lines). If you cue someone, you give them a signal.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is cue used in some example sentences:

  • The dancers waited for their musical cue to come on stage.
  • I have a list of moments in the script where I might have to cue you.
  • The snooker player had a lucky cue.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word cue.

A queue is a line of people or vehicles waiting for something or to go somewhere. As a verb, queue refers to the act of waiting in line.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is queue used in some example sentences:

  • There was a long queue for the rollercoaster.
  • We queued up at midnight for the new Harry Potter book.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word queue.

Where does each word come from?

Cue or Q was used as a stage direction from the sixteenth century to indicate actors’ entrances. It was probably an abbreviation for the Latin ‘quango’ meaning ‘when’.

Both queue and cue (to mean a wooden rod) come from the Latin ‘coda’ meaning ‘tail’.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • Think of the two UEs queuing up after the Q. If it helps, imagine or invent two people with the initials ‘UE’ who you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a line with, e.g. Ugly Emma and Unbearable Eric.
  • Think of a cue as the cure for forgetfulness.
  • As well as balls, you need a cue to play snooker or pool. Notice that c (unlike q) follows b in the alphabet to help you remember to spell cue with a c.

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

What words do you constantly mix up? Let us know and we’ll cover them in our Commonly Confused Words series.

Have a great week!

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries.



08 Aug 2016
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