Word for Wednesday: Queue

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Depending on the type of English you speak, you may not have heard of this word. Even if you have come across it written down, you may be wondering how on earth it’s pronounced.

Queue is the British English word for a line of people or vehicles and is pronounced like the letter ‘q’. In American English, you would describe someone or something as ‘waiting in line’ instead. You can find the Spellzone dictionary definition of the word the word queue plus a recording of how to pronounce it here

In the sixteenth century the word was a heraldic term for the ‘tail of a beast’. The word was also a Middle English metaphor for a ‘line of dancers’ and eventaully, around 1837 this meaning extended to ‘line of people’. It comes from the Old French ‘coe’ meaning ‘tail’ from the Latin ‘coda’. 

Like many words in the English language, it would be hard to guess how to spell queue from its pronunciation. It helps to think of the letters ‘u’ and ‘e’ in line after the letter ‘q’. You could even imagine two people you wouldn’t want to be stuck in line with, for example Unclean Emma and Unbearable Eric.

What word would you use to describe a line of people waiting for something?


Sources: Online Etymology Dictionary 

25 Sep 2019
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