noun Chiefly California.
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Origin of 'que
Definition for 'que (2 of 2)
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does que mean?
Where does que come from?
Romance languages, including French and Spanish, are all essentially modern forms of Latin. That’s why que means roughly the same thing in many of them. Que, along with the Italian che, comes from the Latin word quid, meaning “what.”
Que is a very old word in the Romance languages. It is found in print in French as early as the 9th century and, in Spanish, the 10th century.
While in French and Portuguese que doesn’t change when it is used in a question, in Spanish qué gets an accent when it’s used in a question. This qué means “what?”.
How is que used in real life?
Que can be found in foreign expressions, notably the pseudo-Spanish phrase Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be), performed by Doris Day in Hitchcock’s 1956 thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much.
One Spanish construction familiar to some English speakers is Que + an adjective, (which means “How” + adjective). Que guapo! means “How handsome!,” for instance.
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Que also appears in the Spanish Que tal? and Que pasa? These are common greetings along the lines of “What’s up?”
Que is part of the French construction, qu’est-ce-que, a very convoluted way of saying “what.”
Note that Que. is an abbreviation for the Canadian province of Québec. The shortened ‘que sometimes refers to barbecue too.
More examples of que:
“When a salesman asks him for what he wants, for lack of English, he can’t reply; so the salesman, for lack of Spanish, takes him around from one department to another, to shirts, ties, jackets, and finally to hosiery, whereupon the customer exclaims, ¡Eso sí que es! [Yes, that’s it!]”
—Eleanor G. Cotton & John M. Sharp in Spanish Loanwords in the English Language, 1996
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.