All These Little French and American Words…



Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today one word for the letter Q

* one French word with several meanings in France and the USA, some similar, some different

 Thank you, Dan, for suggesting the word Queue when I was scratching my head.


Ce mot français offre une large palette de sens que tous les français connaissent.

Aux Etats Unis, le mot Queue est aussi utilisé mais dans des contexte plus limités.

Par exemple, il est très rare et franchement bizarre de dire que l’on fait la queue aux USA, même si le mot queue figure dans le dictionnaire pour décrire l’acte d’attendre dans une file de gens ou de véhicules.

Les américains “wait or stand in line” et si vous voulez savoir est la queue, vous demanderez, “Where is the line ?” Ou “Are you in line?”

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The French word Queue means Tail and is used in many different contexts. I list a few below and I’m sure I forgot some.

Queue is used to describe the tail of an animal but also the tail of a plane or the tail of a storm. It is also used to designate the handle of a pan, the cherry stem or the last cars of a train. It is also how the group of more mediocre students that lag behind the best is depicted.

Although the word Queue can be used in the USA in order to describe the act of waiting in line, it’s quite rare and a little strange. I don’t think I ever heard anyone asking me if I was standing in queue. On the other hand, this is the proper way to say it in French.

The French font la queue when the Americans stand or wait in line.

Queue is also the cue used to strike a ball in pool or billiards.

Less expected maybe Queue de pie (magpie) is how a tailcoat or tails is called in France.

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The word Queue is used both in France and the USA with a similar meaning in the high tech terminology.

For example, when a series of instructions are stored in a computer so that they can be processed later. Or still when different jobs remain in the printer queue.

One of the most popular French expressions is A la Queue Leu Leu. I wrote about it last year in my Series French Idioms from A to Z. You can heard from my blog post how it’s pronounced.


Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter Q that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre Q qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?


See you tomorrow with the letter R

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