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Line Up vs. Queue: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 14, 2023
Line up refers to the arrangement of people or things in a straight row; queue is a British term for a line or a waitlist.

Key Differences

Line up and queue both refer to the organization of individuals in an orderly fashion, often waiting for a service or turn. In the context of American English, "line up" is frequently used as a verb, instructing people to form a straight line. It suggests the action of arranging people or things in a particular order. On the other hand, the word "queue" is predominantly a British term, used both as a noun and a verb, referring to the line itself or the action of waiting in line. It conveys a similar concept to "line up" but is more commonly used in British English.
"Line up" has a slightly more dynamic connotation, suggesting the process of forming a line. For example, a teacher may ask students to line up before going to recess. This term can also be used in various contexts, from organizing objects to people preparing for an event. In contrast, "queue" tends to refer to the line of people itself and is less frequently used in the context of objects. A British person might say, "I stood in the queue for the bus," emphasizing their place in the line rather than the action of lining up.
Additionally, "line up" can imply the planning or arrangement of events or elements in a program or schedule. For instance, a concert organizer might announce the line up of bands playing at a festival. In this context, the term has no direct relation to the concept of a queue. However, the term "queue" remains focused on the concept of waiting or being in a line and is not typically used to describe a sequence of events or performances.
When it comes to usage in technology, "queue" is also a term for a list of data items, commands, or jobs to be processed in sequence, which is aligned with its meaning in general language as an ordered line. For "line up," the technological context is less prominent and might only be used informally to refer to arranging digital items on a screen or in software.
In expressions, "line up" and "queue" carry their respective linguistic flavors. "Line up" might be part of phrases like "line up the shot" in photography or sports, which has no relation to the concept of a queue. Conversely, "queue up" in British English not only refers to forming a line but also has extended metaphorically to mean getting ready or preparing for something, as in "queue up a movie."

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Verb and noun
Noun and verb

Primary Use

Arranging in order, planning events
Waiting in line, list processing

Common Contexts

Commands, organization, events
Waiting, British English, computing

Colloquial Use

More American English
More British English


"Line up for tickets," "What's the festival line up?"
"Join the queue," "Queue up the documents for printing."

Line Up and Queue Definitions

Line Up

To arrange in a row.
Line up the chairs for the meeting.


A list of tasks in computing.
The print queue is full.

Line Up

To organize an event or sequence.
The festival's line up is impressive this year.


A braid of hair.
She wore her hair in a queue.

Line Up

To take position for a purpose.
The players line up for the national anthem.


A sequence of people or items.
Please join the queue at the counter.

Line Up

To prepare or get ready.
Line up your documents before the interview.


A line of vehicles.
There was a long queue of traffic on the highway.

Line Up

In police terms, a suspect identification process.
He was picked out from a police line up.


To wait your turn.
Queue here for tickets.

Line Up

Alternative spelling of lineup


A line of waiting people or vehicles.

Line Up

The members of a team who are scheduled to play a game.


A sequence of stored data or programs awaiting processing.


What does "line up" mean?

To arrange in order or prepare for an event.

How do you use "line up" in a sentence?

"The students will line up by the door."

What does "queue" refer to in British English?

A line of people waiting for something or a list in computing.

Can "line up" be used as a noun?

Yes, as in "the concert's line up."

Would you "join a queue" or "join a line up"?

Typically "join a queue" in British English, "join a line" in American.

What does "queue up" mean in British slang?

To prepare or get ready for something.

Is "queue" commonly used in American English?

It's understood but less common than "line up."

Can "queue" mean to braid hair?

Historically, yes, but it's an archaic usage.

Are "line up" and "queue" interchangeable?

Often, but "line up" is more versatile in use.

What is a "line up" in policing?

A procedure for identifying a suspect.

Do "line up" and "queue" have the same etymology?

No, "line up" comes from the concept of a line; "queue" from the French "queue" for tail.

How is "queue" used in technology?

It refers to a list of items to be processed.

Can "line up" refer to a plan?

Yes, as in a schedule or arrangement of events.

Does "queue" imply order?

Yes, it implies a first-come, first-served basis.

Can "line up" be used in a technological context?

Informally, to arrange items on a screen.

Is "line up" formal or informal?

It can be used in both contexts.

What's another word for "queue"?

Line or waitlist.

What's the noun form of "line up"?

It's also "line up," as in a sequence or schedule.

Does "queue" have a verb form?

Yes, as in "to queue up."

In what context would you not use "queue"?

When referring to organizing a series of performances or events.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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