A la queue leu leu

Par Halfcentury (Travail personnel) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Among the French expressions I love most is ‘à la queue leu leu’. It means to move in single file, one after another or ‘les uns derrières les autres’…

The poetry of those words! I alway imagined they had something to do with elephants, moving in their elegant yet clunky way from head to tail, but it seems the etymology of the expression goes back to wolves (‘leu’ being an old word for ‘loup’ or wolf).

‘Queue’, of course, means tail or something else which I will leave to your imagination.

‘A la queue leu leu’ is often used to describe things that come in a series, like bad news or the long lines of traffic that characterize French life during strike season.

However, it is most often associated with happy occasions and the song of the same name. You will hear it played in the salles des fêtes around France at the end of every festive event from New Year’s Eve to weddings. I’ve also seen it at school fêtes, when even the most staid and stuffy of the teaching staff gets a little silly and everyone ends up snaking around the room in a congo line.

There is something in the air this morning — Spring, I think — that makes me feel like dancing.

Go on, I dare you! Everyone, ‘à la queue leu leu!’

When was the last time you got up and danced?