Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Mar 19 2013   12:33PM GMT

Is that your queue to leave or your cue to leave?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
CIO
common misspellings
ESL
Google poll
meanings of common expressions

Which is correct?
When the wedding DJ puts on Macarena, that’s my ______________.
a. queue to leave
b. que to leave
c. cue to leave


Answer: c.

Explanation:
Cue, in this context, comes from the theater. It’s something that happens in a play that signals a particular line or action to an actor. When the actor hears her cue, she knows its time to say or do whatever follows it. In speech, people sometimes shorten this up as “that’s my cue.”

At the Globe Theatre, back in the 16th century, the cues for Shakespearean actors were their actual lines whispered from backstage. Modern actors have to respond to less direct cues — they’re more like landmarks that indicate where to turn off a highway.

A queue, on the other hand, is a line-up. In fact, if you take Macarena as your cue to leave the wedding dance, you might find yourself queuing to leave.

Let’s see how people are doing with this one…

Google Poll:
My queue to leave: 133,000
My cue to leave: 453,000
My que to leave: 542,000

So, apparently more people get this wrong than right online. And their choice, que, is not actually a word.

Welp, that’s my cue.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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