‘Cue' vs 'Queue': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 13, 2023

'Cue' vs 'queue' are two similar-sounding words. So what's the difference between the two? That's what you'll learn in this article.

  • 'Cue' is a signal for action.
  • A 'queue' is a line formed to wait for something.

'Cue' vs 'Queue': What's the Difference?

Are these two words really different? And if so, why do they sound the same?

The reason for that is that they're homonyms. That means they sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things. There are lots of homonyms in the English language. For example:

But although they may sound the same, these two words apply to entirely different contexts. So let's take a look at the definition of each word.

'Cue' definition

A cue is a signal to take some action, whether to begin a speech or performance or an indication that it's time to leave.

The word 'cue' was traditionally just spelled "Q," which was shortened from the Latin quando meaning "when."

'Cue' can be either a noun or a verb.

A 'cue' is also used in billiards or pool to refer to the long wooden stick you use to hit the balls. The word 'cue' is also used to refer to the white ball in the same game.

'Queue' definition

A queue is a line formed when people are waiting for something. A queue could be composed of people, cars, or even items, such as songs on a jukebox.

The word comes from the French queue, meaning "tail," which is the shape that a queue forms.

'Queue' can also be a noun or a verb.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Cue' and 'Queue'

'Cue' and 'queue' are both pronounced the same, making them easy to use in speech. But how exactly do you pronounce them?

According to the International Phonetics Association, the correct pronunciation is as follows:


Phonetically, it sounds like this:


When to Use 'Cue' in a Sentence

Okay, so you get the meaning of the word 'cue,' but how should you use it in a sentence? Let's take a look at some examples:

My ex-wife has just arrived; that's my cue to leave.

The main character has just died; cue the tears.

She couldn't remember her lines, so she looked for the cue card.

We were just wondering where he was when, right on cue, he walked in.

I think my cue is too short; I can't seem to hit any balls.

When to Use 'Queue' in a Sentence

Now let's view some examples of the word 'queue' used in a sentence.

A queue was forming outside of the store on Black Friday.

Can you add my song to the queue?

British people are known for their ability to form an orderly queue.

Sir, you can't just jump the queue. Everyone else here has been waiting a long time, too.

The queue of cars waiting to get onto the highway was growing longer by the minute.

The Bottom Line When it Comes to 'Cue' vs 'Queue'

Yes, both 'cue' and 'queue' sound the same, but they have different meanings, which I hope this article has helped you understand. If you're ever unsure, feel free to return to this article to refresh your memory.

We also have many other articles on commonly confused words. Just visit our blog to read those.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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