Segues and sequels

Segue [ˈseɪgweɪ; ˈsɛgweɪ]

– verb

  1. to continue at once with the next musical section or composition (often used as a musical direction).
  2. to perform in the manner of the preceding section (used as a musical direction).
  3. to make a transition from one thing to another smoothly and without interruption: The conversation segued from travel anecdotes to food.

– noun

  1. an uninterrupted transition made between one musical section or composition and another.
  2. any smooth, uninterrupted transition from one thing to another.

Etymology: from 1740 it was used as a musical instruction to play into the following movement without a break, literally “now follows”. It is a third person singular of the Italian verb seguire (to follow), and comes from the Latin sequī (to follow), from the Proto-Indo-European *sekw- (to follow)

*sekw- is also the root of the English word sequel, via the Old French sequelle, from the Late Latin sequela (that which follows, result, consequence), from the Latin sequī (to follow).


This word came up in a crossword I did yesterday and though I’d heard it before, I haven’t seen it written down and thought it was spelt something like segway.

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

7 Responses to Segues and sequels

  1. Yenlit says:

    I remember the first time I heard ‘segue’ years ago and initially thought before looking it up in a dictionary it must be spelt ‘segway’? Another common confused spelling you often see is ‘persay’ for ‘per se’.

  2. Andrew says:

    Oh wow, I always thought it was spelled “segway”, too. Huh.

  3. It’s possible that the misunderstanding is a result of Segway, the company that produces those awesome two-wheely rolling devices of badass-itude:

    This word reminds me of my English composition teacher in sophomore year. She used to rip into us over our lack of good segues. I always wanted to assist the segue of her face from open space to the table whenever she got into one of those moods.

    No… I’m not jaded 🙂

  4. Yenlit says:

    People confuse the spelling of ‘segue’ and ‘per se’ but I don’t think I’ve ever seen mistakenly spelt French words borrowed in English ending with ‘é’ such as:
    passé &c.
    I can’t find segue in my Welsh dictionary, any ideas Simon et al.?

  5. dreaminjosh says:

    “Segue” is one of those ‘new’ buzzwords that people annoy me with. Heard it used in an episode of “Bones” last year then a week later in an episode of “The Office” and after that I noticed people trying to find ways to slip it into conversations. “Synergy” and “osmosis” annoy me too.

  6. Abbie says:

    I was pretty familiar with the term segue, but maybe I watch too much sketch comedy TV shows.

    Come to think of it, I think when I originally encountered it in reading I read it as something like [siwg], which is a bit idiosyncratic.

  7. Yenlit says:

    If ‘segue’ is the 3rd person sing. of the Italian verb ‘seguire’ then the corresponding French 3rd per. sing. of the verb ‘suivre’ (to follow) would be ‘suit’ from which in English we have derived words ‘en suite’; ‘pursuit; ‘suite’ and ‘suit’ of clothes, cards &c.

%d bloggers like this: