What Does “Queue” Really Mean?

English is a quirky language. English grammarian E. B. White in his “Elements of Style” famously said “I hate the guts out of English grammar”. This from someone who has made his life’s work out of English grammar! Andreas Hassellof, the CEO of the Swedish retail tech company Ombori is inclined to agree with White. He points to the English word “queue” (a line to purchase or pay for something to Americans) as an example of a crazy English idiom.

According to the “Cambridge Dictionary”, a queue is “a line of people, usually standing or in cars, waiting for something”. The word can also be used as a verb, meaning “to wait in a line of people, often to buy something”. In Britain and other parts of the world, people queue for groceries, theater tickets or to get into a sports venue. You’ll also see a queue of cars to get on a ferry or waiting for a lift bridge. In American English, people usually just say “line” instead of “queue”. No wonder the concept is confusing.

“Queue” comes from an Old French word for “tail”. In those days, men often wore their hair with a short ponytail in the back. This was the “cue” or “queue”. Today, “queue” is often misspelled as “cue”, “que” or even Q.

Queue management systems

In the retail world, few things are as annoying to customers as a long queue. Ombori is a leader in retail technology solutions and offers a variety of queue management systems to help retailers improve the customer experience. Shoppers can get their “place” in the queue without having to crowd around other people. They simply scan a QR code from an in-store kiosk to “get their number”. Alternatively, they can get “in line” via an online app. These systems aren’t just good for customers, they can help realize employee stress and improve morale.

About Ombori

Ombori is an innovative technology company that offers a variety of retail solutions. In addition to providing queue management systems, the Swedish company is the creative force behind such revolutionary in-store technology as a talking mirror that asks shoppers to take a selfie with it and an interactive window display that lets passersby shop without even entering the store. Ombori works with retail partners headquartered all over the globe.