Queue is a weird word. It looks like somebody just vomited a bunch of useless vowels after the consonant, and I often get questions about it. Since being borrowed into English in the 1470s, the word has held a lot of different meanings: it could refer to a band of parchment, a line of dancers, a plait of hair, the long end of a string instrument, a cask, a bottom part of a lance, or the tail of a beast in heraldry. All of these definitions have something to do with length, and that last one is closest to their origin in Old French coe or cue, meaning "tail" (or, colloquially, "penis"). That comes from Vulgar Latin coda, which is also the source of the English word coda. That's from Latin cauda, still meaning "tail", and if we go back far enough we can trace it to Proto-Italic kauda and Proto-Indo-European khu, meaning "cleaved".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.