Americans: When Did You Start Using the Word “Queue?”

Geek Culture
Get in line. Queue up.

I had a moment this weekend when I used the word “queue” in casual conversation, and I had to stop for a moment, because I had a bit of a flashback. I could remember sometime in the late ’80s or early ’90s when I had first become aware of the word, which is of English origin, probably because I was watching Doctor Who or another BBC show on PBS. At the time, I had thought it was odd that they had a different term for “line.”

queue noun \ˈkyü  \ (from Meriam-Webster)

Definition of queue 

1a braid of hair usually worn hanging at the back of the head

2a waiting line especially of persons or vehicles

3aa sequence of messages or jobs held in temporary storage awaiting transmission or processing

bdata structure that consists of a list of records such that records are added at one end and removed from the other

Fast forward more decades than I’d like to admit, and due to computers and services like Netflix, the word has become firmly embedded in American English as well. People in the US are just as likely to “queue up” as to “get in line,” these days – especially at theme parks. It’s such an interesting idea that technology and increased cultural inter-connectivity could morph our language so quickly. So, I figured I’d ask you, our readers, when did you all become aware of the word and start using it? Tell your story in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Americans: When Did You Start Using the Word “Queue?”

  1. It was used in one of the MMORPGs that I played, basically they said you are #17 in queue if the server was full. I have been using it since.

  2. I first heard it during a visit to England in 1985 at a train station. I think it came into common usage in the US with the use of the word for networked printing. That was the first I recall hearing it in the US.

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