Cue vs. Queue

When you say the words cue and queue out loud, they sound the same. However, they have very different meanings. These types of confusing words are called homophones. 

So, how can you keep them straight? Keep reading to find out.

The Proper Use of Cue

Cue can be used as either a noun or a verb.

When cue is used as a noun, it has two meanings. First, it can mean a hint or signal that tells someone to do something.

For example:

The comic took the crowd’s booing as his cue to leave.

When the couple walks out of the church, that’s our cue to start cheering. 

The concert started after the conductor’s cue.

The second meaning of cue as a noun is a certain ball in the game of billiards. Particularly, it is the white ball that the player strikes first. 

For example:

You have to use the cue ball to hit all the other balls.

She hit the cue into the pocket and lost her turn.

When cue is used as a verb, it means the act of signaling someone. This is called giving them a cue.

For example:

Give me a cue when it’s my turn to start. 

When playing billiards, cue means to hit a ball with a stick. 

For example:

Cue the last ball in, and you win.

Proper Use of Queue

Queue can also be used as either a noun or a verb.

When it’s used as a noun, queue means a lineup of either people or other things.

For example: 

They formed a queue to get into the game.

When queue is used as a verb, it means to line things up or to form a line.

For example:

She queued up her favorite songs for the road trip. 

Cue Up vs. Queue Up

Both cue up and queue up are common phrases. 

Cue up means to get an audio or video ready to play. A radio DJ might cue up the next song.

On the other hand, queue up means to line up. Movie-goers queue up to buy tickets. You can queue up shows to watch on Netflix. 

How can you Remember the Difference?

Queue always refers to a line. Someone in a queue waits for their turn. Both queue and waits have five words! 

In Conclusion

Both cue and queue are used as a noun or a verb.

When cue is used as a noun, it is either a signal or part of a billiards game. When it is a verb, it means sending a signal or striking a ball in billiards games.

When queue is used as a noun, it refers to items in a line. As a verb, it means to form a line.

Someone in a queue waits their turn. Both queue and waits have five letters.

Related: We have a whole section dedicated to similar words here!


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