Cue Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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Cue is a word that we can use in several ways. It can be a verb, noun, adjective, interjection, adverb, or abbreviation. It can also act as a conjunction or prefix, or suffix. In addition to these usages, you may also encounter it as an abbreviated form of the phrase “cue ball.” 

This is everything you need to know about what the word cue means and how you incorporate it into your speech and communication today! 

What Is the Definition of Cue? 

The word cue (kjuː) in American English is pronounced just like saying the letter Q. 

Cue is mainly associated with the Middle English and French queue, but as time has passed, the word has found relevant usage in the modern world. 

If you were to look in a thesaurus for word lists of synonyms, you would likely find words including: 

  • Signal 
  • Prompt
  • Reminder
  • Nod
  • Sign
  • Indication
  • Sound effect
  • Frame of mind

What Is the Etymology of the Word Cue? 

Cue is a word that has been in use since the 16th century. It is derived from the Latin quando and Latin cōda, which mean “when” or “at the time when.” The word can be used as a noun or a verb:

As a noun, it refers to an order given by another person before beginning an activity. This is also called “giving someone their cue.”

As a verb, it means to give someone their cue or make them aware that they need to start doing something at some point in time or concerning something else happening at some point in time (this is known as “theatrical” timing).

A Cue as a Visual Cue

When you’re watching a movie, certain parts just feel right. 

A lazy, sunny afternoon at the cabin gives way to the foreboding creak of an opening door. A father lovingly looks at his daughter as she dances with her new husband, and we sense that he’s finally found some peace. 

The images resonate because we recognize these moments — we’ve felt them ourselves. But did you know that they are more than just pictures? 

These images are called cues, or visual clues that help people understand what is happening in a story without having to write it out for them. That’s why a warning sign on the road might give us a clue about what’s about to happen next and why it can be so easy to get caught up in an action scene or be moved by a dramatic one.

Cue as a Prompt

A cue is a word, phrase, signal, or action that precedes or indicates what is to follow. In its most general sense, it means anything that reminds you of something else. For example: “Give me a cue.” 

A signal from an actor on stage to another cast member that they should begin their next part in the play. A word or phrase used to help you remember something; for example: “I’ll give you five minutes to get ready for school” is a cue for your alarm clock telling you when it’s time for school, so go and wake up!

In psychology and cognitive science research into human memory retrieval processes (such as those studied in cued recall paradigms), cues are typically external stimuli presented before test items (i.e., words) during learning trials.

Using cues helps us remember things more quickly and easily—which means that by using cues in our speech and writing, we can spend less time thinking about stuff while speaking or writing (and more time being excellent).

Cue in the Game of Billiards

A cue is a stick with which players strike the balls in pool and billiards (or snooker) games. The cue is usually made of wood and tapered from the handle end to the tip to facilitate a controlled shot. 

Cues are generally long and flexible enough to be used for shots requiring a large amount of power (such as jump shots) or for more delicate shots necessary for spin control (such as draw shots). 

Example Sentences Using the Word Cue

One of the best ways to learn how to use a word is by seeing it used in actual world sentences. Here are some great examples of using the phrase cue in ways that will likely make sense to you! 

The pool cue stick was just a wooden stick — it was no match for the sword coming after me. 

As I gave my speech on being a professional shuffleboard player, I held onto my cue cards. 

The scary random house at the end of the street was a good cue that we shouldn’t have been there. 

Mr. Deixa made apps that would help cue people to accomplish their goals. 

The unabridged version of the play had many extra cues inside of it. 

What I thought was just a tapered stick was actually a pool cue. 

Harpercollins publishers edited out all of the cues in the play. 

We were all listening for the catchword that would be our cue to jump out of hiding. 

When my teacher started talking about idioms and transitive verbs, I took it as my cue to take a nap. 


There are many benefits to knowing how to communicate effectively. Throughout your day, you may find yourself in various situations where the ability to communicate clearly is necessary for success. 

Practical communication skills can benefit from a speech at a company meeting, an interview for a job promotion, or a casual conversation with your friends. Reading articles on The Word Counter and improving your vocabulary will enhance your communication skills daily!


Cue Definition & Meaning |

CUE | Cambridge English Dictionary

Cue definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary