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Cue vs. Queue

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

Cue and queue sound the same when spoken aloud, but they do not mean the same thing. This difference in meaning despite identical pronunciations makes them homophones. If you are writing about a game of billiards, you can avoid ridicule by using the correct word to describe the equipment used in such games. But what is the correct word? Cue or queue? You can find out by reading this article.


The word cue originated in mid-18th century denoting a long plait or pigtail. The word queue originated in late 16th century (as a heraldic term denoting the tail of an animal): from French, based on Latin cauda ‘tail’.

Cue as noun:

Cue is used as a noun in English language where it refers to a thing said or done that serves as a signal to an actor or other performer to enter or to begin their speech or performance.

She had not yet been given her cue to come out on to the dais.

Cue is also a facility for playing through an audio or video recording very rapidly until a desired starting point is reached.

A long straight tapering wooden rod for striking the ball in snooker, billiards, etc. is also known as a cue.

Cue as verb:

Cue is also used as a verb in English language where it means to give a cue to or for.

Ros and Guil, cued by Hamlet, also bow deeply.

To set a piece of audio or video equipment in readiness to play (a particular part of the recorded material) is also called cue.

There was a pause while she cued up the next tape.

Cue as a verb also refers to using a cue to strike the ball.

Mark cued well early on.

Queue as noun:

Queue is used as a noun which refers to a line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed.

They made a queue outside the shop.

A list of data items, commands, etc., stored so as to be retrievable in a definite order, usually the order of insertion is also called a queue.

Queue as verb:

Queue is also used as a verb which means to take one's place in a queue.

In the war they had queued for food.

To arrange in a queue is also called queue.

Input or output requests to a file are queued by the operating system.


Then there’s that impressive skill set: barking, whimpering and rolling over on cue. [Wall Street Journal]

There’s a queue every lunchtime outside a particular eaterie in London’s West End, waiting with varying degrees of patience for sandwiches. [Telegraph]

He cued up Mr. Gingrich’s theme music, “Only in America,” by Brooks & Dunn. [New York Times]

There was chaos at Phuket airport today as passengers queued to try to get on alternative flights … [Sydney Morning Herald]

A younger brother, Garret, is also in the cue. [Our Colorado News]

The musicians cueing up to salute Paul McCartney at MusiCares were nervous enough about doing justice to their hero’s classics. [USA Today]

Queue or cue:

Cue and queue can each be used as a noun or a verb. As a noun, a cue is either a signal or a piece of sporting equipment. As a verb, it refers to the act of signaling someone, or the act of striking a ball in billiards games. As a noun, a queue is a lineup of people or other things. As a verb, queue means to line something up or to form a line. A person in a queue waits their turn. This should be easy to remember since queue and waits have the same number of letters- five. If you still need help remembering whether to use queue or cue, feel free to check this article again to review the details.

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