Queue - Encyclopedia

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QUEUE or CUE (from Fr. queue, O. Fr. cue, Lat. cauda, tail), a tail of hair, either of the natural hair when so worn or of a wig, plaited together and tied with ribbon, hanging down the back of the neck. In Europe and European colonies and settlements this method of wearing the hair prevailed after the heavy periwig had gone out of fashion. The bob-wig or tie-wig with the queue survives in the English barrister's wig. In the second half of the 18th century the queue was worn thick and short and sometimes encased in leather, when it was termed a "club." In the navy and army the queue survived its disuse in civil life. The three pieces of black velvet sewn on to the collar of the full dress tunic of the officers of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and styled the "flash," are said to be a relic of the ribbon which tied the queue. The most familiar use of this fashion of wearing the hair is the pigtail of the Manchus, which was imposed on all Chinese men as a symbol of loyalty and obedience at the conquest of China (see China: Social Life). A particular meaning of the word is for the line of persons formed in order awaiting their turn for admission to a theatre or other place. This appears also in French, from which it is borrowed. In the form "cue" (Fr. queue) the word is used of the tapering, striking implement in the game of billiards. It is often stated that the theatrical use of "cue" for the concluding words of an ac'tor's dialogue or speech which marks the beginning of another actor's part is merely an adaptation of the meaning "tail." The New English Dictionary points out that there is no trace of this use in French. In 16th and 17th century plays the endings of parts are marked Q. or qu-, which has been taken to represent Lat. quando, when.

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