AE/BE ... cut queue, jump queue, cut in line? ['cut queue' in BE?, elsewhere?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by timebomb, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. timebomb

    timebomb Senior Member

    Singapore, English
    Hi, folks,

    When you're in a queue and someone rudely cuts in somewhere in the middle of the queue and not at the end of it, is this person jumping the queue or cutting the queue?

    <<Antonia's thread entitled cut in line - AE or BE has been added to this thread from #16 onwards.
  2. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Good question! My inclination (and I could be wrong) is that a person who jumps the queque avoids it all together (for instance, simply walking to the very front or grabbing the attention of the person to whom the queque is waiting). Thus, one who cuts the queque, cuts in the middle of it instead of adding to the end of it.

    However, some may use the words interchangeably.

    I'm anxious to hear other opinions myself!
  3. jess oh seven

    jess oh seven Senior Member

    UK/US, English
    i'd say skipping the queue or cutting in line.
  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hi Timebomb,

    As an aside, queue is generally BE. AE prefers line. Thus a note of caution...queue in AE is usually taken to mean a braid of hair, hanging behind the head.
    Just imagine how a not very literate American might interpret 'cut the queue'?!

    Now, to your question: Cut in line [I've translated queue to line for the AE readers who don't know the secondary meaning of queue:)] usually means to intrude oneself into the queue, while 'jump the line' means to go straight to the front, ignoring or feigning indifference to the hostile glowerings of those with manners.

  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Not being rude. That's what you do to a queue when you fail to take your place meekly at the end.
    Alternatively, and more conventionally, you jumped the queue - by several places or right to the front.

    Cuchu: - you haven't completely shaken off the yoke of colonial English then:)
    Queue: A long plait of hair worn hanging down behind, from the head or from a wig; a pig-tail - a characteristic of the red-coat armies.
  6. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    I had never heard queue for braid, but I think Americans are becoming more familiar with the word, at least understanding it if not yet using it, partly because of the increase in cultural exchanges in travel, film, music, etc., and because also it's used in software (print queue, netflix queue, java, as examples).
  7. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Curious, I suppose it's a part of my fascination with history.
    The Chinese immigrants in the western US in the 19th century were often subject to various forms of persecution, often including having their queues pulled or cut off.

    However, you are correct. While most dictionaries put the braid ahead of the polite line, current usage has reversed the frequency of usage from the back of the head to the head of the throng.
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    God Bless your German King George III. We are stuck with
    G II, but his G2 isn't very good. Do you think we might get him to emulate his namesake, and ingest (voluntarily, of course) copious quantities of antimony?

    Don't British judges still wear wigs with queues?

    Yoke shaking is well down my list of amusements, after daylily hybridizing, playing with words, Jazz, chamber music, swimming in the river (seasonal), and thinking about house repair. I'm planning to add color coding my books, but that may have to wait until after I've done some serious yoke shaking.
  9. Edwin

    Edwin Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida, USA
    USA / Native Language: English
    Some engineering students, computer science students and mathematics students even take courses nowadays in the theory of queueing:

    Queueing theory (sometimes spelled queuing theory, but then losing the distinction of containing the only English word with 5 consecutive vowels) is the mathematical study of waiting lines (or queues). There are several related processes, arriving at the back of the queue, waiting in the queue (essentially a storage process), and being served by the server at the front of the queue. It is applicable in transport and telecommunication. Occasionally linked to ride theory. From where more details about the subject can be obtained.

    I don't think cutting in line is studied in queueing theory.
  10. johnL Senior Member

    NC USA
    USA, English
    "Cutting in line" or "butting in line."
  11. Artrella Banned

    Jump the queue >> Br E

    Cut in line >> Am E

    Queue (BrE) = Line (AmE)

    It makes me mad when someone jumps the queue :mad:

    Cut in line US jump the queue (BrE)

    Source: I Finger (OUP)
  12. Amityville

    Amityville Senior Member

    English UK
    "Pushing in" - no explicit reference to the queue. "That woman just pushed in."
    I wonder if queueing theory has a word for the person just behind breathing down your neck/standing on your heels/nudging your bottom with his trolley ? The passive-aggressive queuer.
  13. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Sounds to me like what I'd call a tailgater. Usually said of highway traffic, tailgating is following at too-close quarters.
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Judges still wear wigs, as do barristers. Dark suits, black gowns, white wigs - both men and women.
    Judges wigs are much too grand to have queues. To see legal wigs CLICK HERE.
    Hand up - and not only nowadays. Once upon a time, long long ago, in the days when we did binary arithmetic as part of the computing exam in our engineering finals, I also studied queueing theory as part of communications and information theory.
    I'm more or less convinced that the appearance of multi-server queues in banks, shops and elsewhere coincided with the increasingly scientific analysis of queueing behaviour.
  15. timebomb

    timebomb Senior Member

    Singapore, English
    In Singapore, sometimes we line, sometimes we queue.

    We queue when we're waiting for our turn to be served at the post office or at the bank. We queue too, at the bus stop when we wait for the bus to arrive. But we stand in line only when we're ordered to do so. For instance, students are told to line themselves up when they're about to go into their classes. In the army, the sergeant shouts "fall in" and the soldiers immediately form lines of 3. I attended my company's training camp and the instructor said, 'Please line yourselves up" when we're about to take our turns on abseiling down a rock face. Whew, that one was scary :eek:

    In short, when in Singapore, a queue is more or less voluntary and somewhat less orderly than a line.

    Mostly, we frown and whisper "someone's cutting queue" when a bully comes around and pops himself a few places in front of us when we queueing. A brave soul may venture "Hey, you!! Please don't cut queue". We don't even say "cut the queue" as it's obvious which queue he cut into. If we say "jump queue", people would probably think someone actually took a running jump and landed himself somewhere along the queue :D Nobody ever cuts a line as the consequences can be disastrous and also, there's no incentive to do so :D

    That said, do we say "join in a queue" when we take our place at the end of one? Or is it simply "join a queue"?
  16. antonia2240

    antonia2240 New Member

    HI, everybody,

    Pls tell me if that expression is only American or it is in use in UK too.
  17. mjscott Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest, USA
    American English
    Cutting in line is not permitted in the cafeteria at our school--you cannot allow your friend to pass up everyone else just because you are in the front of the line. You will have to wait to see if our British friends cut in queue--or however they might express the same action....
  18. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Not BE.
    We don't have lines, we have queues:)
    I'm adding this thread to the end of a previous thread on cutting lines, or jumping queues:D
  19. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    In AE, we also say "breaking into the line." I'm actually not sure if this always suggests a more aggressive action that "cutting." Perhaps some AE speakers could help.
  20. ChiMike Senior Member

    Chicago USA
    USA, English
    Well, the Brits, having tired of English, turned, about 1837, to the French and adopted their expression (and their word). It means, of course, TAIL, and like the Latin word for "tail" has some other uses in French as well, which I don't believe our British brethern have adopted, since all of us English speakers already have plenty of words for the virile member.

    So, take a cue (the older borrowing from Old French of the same word) from me, and do not apologize for Americans who have retained the older way of speaking of the matter. In BE, you can also "queue up" - form a line - "line up" to us poor benighted Americans. In Italian (and still among some of the French) you make a thread (fare filo), adopted into English as stand in file (also the verb "to file" (but not by using the instrument - a file) and the noun "defile" (a narrow passage) - but, except for specific military usage, not the verb of a different origin (foul): to defile!). In German, it being, after all, German, you stand "snake", which word is also used in the vulgar idiom in the same way that "queue" is used in vulgar French. In AE, at least, the line can snake around the block if the show is good enough.
  21. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English

    Thanks for my laugh for the day! Learning & laughter--not a bad combination, that! :D
  22. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Hi ChiMike! That was funny. Yes, Cuchu, English judges do still wear wigs with queues, as do barristers. I once tried one on when I was assisting at the Crown Court and, I have to say, looked rather marvellous.

    In my part of England, it's "jumping the queue" and it is a HEINOUS crime. English people are notorious for being reticent and not talking to eachother etc, but if someone jumps the queue, well! Everybody's talking then.
  23. quaerereverum

    quaerereverum Senior Member


    What do you say in English when you are walking up the checkout line but another person walks faster to get to the line sooner than you? I'm not sure that ''jumping the line'' would be the correct answer or not?

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    <<This thread has been merged with an earlier thread. Please read from the beginning.
    Cagey, moderator.>>
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2011
  24. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    To jump the line = to push into a queue. In your example, there was no queue, just someone who was faster arriving at the queue/line. The person rushed ahead of you.
  25. quaerereverum

    quaerereverum Senior Member

    Thank you PaulQ. As a matter of fact, I've searched and I found ''cut in the line'' but it was not the word that I've looked for.
  26. exas New Member

    Is it grammatical to say or write "cut queue" as is so often done in Singapore ?
  27. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hello exas - welcome to the forums!
    It may be grammatical in Singaporean English.
    But it's not grammatical in BrE:(.
  28. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    This sounds like Chinglish to me ... many of my Chinese friends have problems with articles (not surprisingly), and they often solve those problems by dropping them entirely. :)

    I do, however, hear "cut the queue" in Hong Kong.
  29. exas New Member


    Thanks. I wanted to confirm.
  30. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Welcome to the forum, exas!

    Cut queue is Singlish (non-standard). Cut the queue is standard (Singaporean/British/etc.) English.

    ('I wanted to confirm' also usually has an object in Standard English: I wanted to confirm that. But I hear your version all the time! ;))
  31. exas New Member

    Thanks for all the specific responses.
  32. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I haven't heard "cut the queue" from a BrE speaker, but perhaps it's crept in in recent years. I say "jump the queue" or simply "push in".
  33. DonnyB

    DonnyB Sixties Mod

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I've never heard anyone say "cut the queue" in BE.

    If I did, I'd assume it meant reduce the size of the queue, for example by opening another checkout.
  34. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I'm used to hearing to queue-barge to describe this activity.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
  35. Trochfa

    Trochfa Senior Member

    English - England
    Agreeing with Sound Shift and DonnyB. I've never heard "cut the queue" in BrE either.
  36. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    Something similar occurred to me too:
    That cheeky so-and-so just went barging in ahead of me.
  37. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I regard to queue barge as the standard pejorative expression and there are many BE instances of it on Google. Here's one which seems to be designed for foreigners, on how to behave in the UK.

    Buying tickets or waiting to get into a club etc

    Never attempt to ‘queue barge’ – if you try to ‘jump the queue’ (in other words, try to get ahead of other people who were there first), this will be very, very unpopular indeed
    . - Form an orderly queue – the art of waiting your turn - B4B Guide Britain

    French women are masterly at it. They'd get told off loudly in Britain, particularly when they are on their portable phones (one of their standard diversionary techniques).
  38. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    I vaguely remembered something I saw on the BBC's QI some time ago about queue barging. I found this transcript, and I offer it, because it's Quite Interesting, but with no supporting evidence:

    This is something that's been researched. There is a particular word. Let's suppose that you queue-barge. Now, in general, if you queue-barge apologetically and charmingly, 60% of people will let you in without too much complaint - this was done for a queue to a photocopier - but if you used this one word in your sentence, you would get 95% of people letting you in quite happily.

    "Because." "Because." "Yeah, because I've got some photocopying to do."

    And it's obvious you've got photocopying to do, you've gone to the front of the photocopying queue, but just saying "because" is the magic word. It unlocks people's objection. "Because I'm in a hurry." "Do you mind? Because I'm in a hurry."

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