noun, often capitalized, often attributive
\ ˈkyü How to pronounce q (audio) \
plural q's or qs\ ˈkyüz How to pronounce qs (audio) \

Definition of q

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the 17th letter of the English alphabet
b : a graphic representation of this letter
c : a speech counterpart of orthographic q
2 : a graphic device for reproducing the letter q
3 : one designated q especially as the 17th in order or class
4 : something shaped like the letter Q

Definition of q (Entry 2 of 2)

1 quart
2 quartile
3 quarto
4 queen
5 query
6 question
7 quetzal
8 quire

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Is it que, queue, or q?

One of our persistent—and more puzzling—lookups is for the word que, which is entered in our dictionary (capitalized) as an abbreviation for Quebec. Qué is also a Spanish word that means “what.” That is not, however, the word that many people are looking for when they look up que in our dictionary. Que is homophonous with a number of other words, most of which have wildly different spellings and meanings. One of the words that people are looking for when they look up que is queue, a word that means “line” (as in, “We waited in the ticket queue.”) Sometimes people are looking for the homonym cue, or “a signal to start or do something” (“The lights just went out—that’s my cue to start the movie.”). Very occasionally, people look up que for coup, a word that refers to a violent and sudden overthrow or takeover of a government (“reports on the latest coup attempt”). And if you’re looking for the phonetic spelling of the letter q, try again: that’s cue.

Examples of q in a Sentence

Noun The word “quart” begins with a q. The word “quart” begins with q.

First Known Use of q


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Learn More about q

Time Traveler for q

Time Traveler

The first known use of q was before the 12th century

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Statistics for q

Cite this Entry

“Q.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/q. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for q

How to pronounce q (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of q

: the 17th letter of the English alphabet


noun, often capitalized
\ ˈkyü How to pronounce q (audio) \
plural q's or qs\ ˈkyüz \

Kids Definition of q

: the 17th letter of the English alphabet

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More from Merriam-Webster on q

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with q

Spanish Central: Translation of q

Nglish: Translation of q for Spanish Speakers

Comments on q

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