Easily Confused Words: Cue vs. Queue

Cue and Queue are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Cue is a noun. It means a movement, signal, or other notification that things are going well, or the opposite. A cue that a conversation is going well is repeated eye contact, smiling, and nodding.

Queue has multiple forms:

  • As a verb, it means to form a single file line.
  • As a noun, it means a formed line of objects or people.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Quetzalla was visiting from another country. Her biggest culture shock right off the plane was noticing people her host country didn’t believe queuing up at restaurants, and they were not open to cues that this was wrong. She was learning early that being a stranger in a strange land means not bossing everyone around about how things worked back home. 


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