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late 15c., "band attached to a letter with seals dangling on the free end," from French queue "a tail," from Old French cue, coe "tail" (12c., also "penis"), from Latin coda (dialectal variant or alternative form of cauda) "tail," of unknown origin. Also in literal use in 16c. English, "tail of a beast," especially in heraldry. The Middle English metaphoric extension to "line of dancers" (c.1500) led to extended sense of "line of people, etc." (1837). Also used 18c. in sense of "braid of hair hanging down behind" (first attested 1748).
A first-in first-out data structure used to sequence objects. Objects are added to the tail of the queue ("enqueued") and taken off the head ("dequeued").
For example, an operating system might use a queue to serialise concurrent demands for a resource such as a printer, processor or communications channel. Users might place files on a print queue and a background process or "demon" would take them off and print them. Another common use is to pass data between an interrupt handler and a user process.