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List of English words containing Q not followed by U

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Six rows of black square keys with white letters, numbers, and symbols on them slope from the top left to the bottom right with a metallic strip in the top right corner.
QWERTY, one of the few native English words with Q not followed by U, is derived from the first six letters of a standard keyboard layout.
A photograph of a busy passageway leading from the foreground to the background contains people walking in both directions illuminated by elongated slats of light.
A souq in Marrakech, Morocco. Like many of the other English words that use a q not followed by a u, souq is of Arabic origin.

In English, the letter Q is usually almost always followed immediately by the letter U, e.g. quiz, quarry, question, squirrel. However, there are some exceptions. The majority of these are anglicised from Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Inuktitut, or other languages that do not use the English alphabet, with Q often representing a sound not found in English. For example, in the Chinese pinyin alphabet, qi is pronounced /tʃi/ (similar to "chi" in English) by an English speaker, as pinyin uses "q" to represent the sound [tɕʰ], which is approximated as [] (ch) in English. In other examples, Q represents [q] in standard Arabic, such as in qat and faqir. In Arabic, the letter ق, traditionally romanised as Q, is quite distinct from ك, traditionally romanised as K; for example, ”قلب” /qalb/ means "heart" but “ كلب ” /kalb/ means "dog". However, alternative spellings are sometimes accepted, which use K (or sometimes C) in place of Q; for example, Koran (Qur'ān) and Cairo (al-Qāhira).

Of the words in this list, most are (or can be) interpreted as nouns, and most would generally be considered loanwords.[1] However, all of the loanwords on this list are considered to be naturalised in English according to at least one major dictionary (see References), often because they refer to concepts or societal roles that do not have an accurate equivalent in English. For words to appear here, they must appear in their own entry in a dictionary; words that occur only as part of a longer phrase are not included.

Proper nouns are not included in the list. There are, in addition, many place names and personal names, mostly originating from Arabic-speaking countries, Albania, or China, that have a Q without a U. The most familiar of these are the countries of Iraq and Qatar, along with the derived words Iraqi and Qatari. Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, also has a Q that is not directly followed by a U. Qaqortoq,[2] in Greenland, is notable for having three such Qs. Other proper names and acronyms that have attained the status of English words include Compaq (a computer company),[3] Nasdaq (a US electronic stock market),[4] Uniqlo (a Japanese retailer), Qantas (an Australian airline),[5] and QinetiQ (a British technology company).[6][7] Saqqara (an ancient burial ground in Egypt)[8] is a proper noun notable for its use of a double Q.


Unless noted otherwise, all words listed here are assumed to be pluralized by adding -s or -es. References in the "Sources" column relate to the headword in column one; variant spellings are then separately referenced. The sources given are selective, and the absence of a reference to a particular dictionary does not necessarily mean that the word does not appear in that dictionary.

In American and Canadian English, there are currently 4,422 words with Q not followed by U including the following words in the table below.

Word Meaning Sources Other forms Etymology
bianqing An ancient Chinese percussion instrument [MW] Chinese: 編磬
buqsha A former Yemeni monetary unit [L] Also written bogache Arabic
burqa A veiled garment worn by some Muslim women [ODE][LC][C][AHC][OED] Also written burka, burkha, or burqua Urdu and Persian burqa, from Arabic burqu`
cinq The number five, as signified in dice or cards [ODE][COD][OED] French cinq 'five'
cinqfoil A plant of the genus Potentilla, or an ornamental design thereof [SOED][OED] Much more commonly written cinquefoil Middle English, from Latin quinquefolium, from quinque 'five' + folium 'leaf'
coq A trimming of cock feathers on a woman's hat [WI] French coq 'cockerel'
faqih An Islamic jurisprudent [RHW] Plural faqihs or fuqaha [RHU] Arabic فَقِيه
faqir A Muslim ascetic [L] More commonly written fakir Arabic فَقِير 'poverty-stricken'
fiqh Muslim jurisprudence [ODE] Arabic فِقْه 'understanding'
inqilab A revolution in India or Pakistan [C] Arabic إِنْقِلَاب
jelq Manual penis enlargement exercise Is also a verb. Derived words include jelqs, jelqed and jelqing Persian جلق 'masturbation, onanism'
mbaqanga A style of South African music [ODE][C][W] Zulu umbaqanga 'steamed maize bread'
miqra The Tanakh, or Hebrew text of the Bible [WI] Hebrew מקרא
muqaddam A Bangladeshi or Punjabi headman [C] Arabic مُقَدَّم
nastaliq An Arabic script used in Persian writings [OED] Also written nasta'liq [C], nestaliq [OED], nastaleeq, or shortened to just taliq [OED] Persian نستعليق, from naskh + ta`liq
niqab A veil for the lower-face worn by some Muslim women [ODE] Also written niqaab From Arabic نِقَاب
nuqta Diacritic mark Also written nukta
pontacq A sweet wine from Pontacq (France) [OED] French
q Q or q, the 17th letter of the modern English alphabet [MW] Greek or Latin
qabab A dish consisting of pieces of seasoned meat [OED] More commonly written kebab, kebap, kebob, kibob, kebhav, kephav, kebabie, or kabob Persian کباب
qabalah A form of Jewish mysticism [C][AHC][WI] More commonly written Kabbalah, and also written Qabala [AHC], Qabbala [WI], Cabalah etc. Derived words include qabalism, qabalist, and qabalistic. Hebrew קַבָּלָה
qadarite A member of the Qadariyah [RHU]
qadariyah In Islam, adherents of the doctrine of free will [RHU] Also written Qadariya [RHU]
qaddish In Judaism, a prayer of mourning [C] More commonly written Kaddish Hebrew קדיש
qadi A Muslim judge [L][C][W][OED][AOX] Also written qadhi [OED], qaadi, kadi, kazi qaadee or qazi [OED] Arabic قَاضِى
qadiriyah In Islam, a Sufi order [RHU] Also written Qadiriya [RHU] Arabic القَادِرِيَّة
qaf ق‎, the twenty-first letter of the Arabic alphabet [RHW] Also written qaph or qap Arabic قَاف
qaid A Muslim tribal chief [RHW] Also written caid or kaid Arabic قَائِد, 'leader', 'commander'
qaimaqam A minor official of the Ottoman Empire [C][OED] Also written kaymakam, kaimakam, caimacam, or qaim makam From Arabic قَائِم 'standing' + مَقَام 'place', meaning 'standing in place'
qalamdan A Persian writing-case [C] Persian قلمدان
qalandar A member of an order of mendicant dervishes [RHU] Also written calender, or capitalised
qanat A type of water-supply tunnel found in north Africa and the Middle East [ODE][C][OED][AOX] Also written kanat, khanat, kunut, kona, konait, ghanat, or ghundat Persian, from Arabic qanāt 'channel'
qanun A type of harp [OED] Also written qanon or kanun [OED] Arabic قَانُون, rule, principle or mode
qasida An Arabian poem of praise or satire [C][OED][AOX] Also written qasidah Arabic قَصِيدَة
qat A kind of Arabian shrub used as a narcotic [L][C][OED] More commonly written khat, kat or gat Arabic qāt
qawwal A person who practices qawwali music [ODE][C][AOX]
qawwali Devotional music of the Sufis [ODE][C][AOX] Arabic قوَّالِي (qawwāli) 'loquacious' or 'singer'
Qazaq Variant spelling of the people of Kazakhstan [OED] More commonly spelled Kazakh.
qere A marginal reading in the Hebrew Bible [OED][WI] Also written qeri [WI] or qre [WI] Aramaic קְרֵי, '[what is] read'
qhat An obsolete spelling of what [OED] Likely of Scots origin, in which an older spelling convention used "quh-" or "qh-" where English had "wh-".[9]
qheche An obsolete spelling of which [OED]
qhom An obsolete spelling of whom [OED]
qhythsontyd An obsolete spelling of Whitsuntide (the day of Pentecost) [OED]
qi In Chinese culture, a physical life force [ODE][C][AHC][OED] Commonly written chi or ki simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese:
qiana A type of nylon [OED] Originally a trademark of DuPont, now generic
qibla The point to which Muslims turn in prayer [ODE][COD][C][OED][AOX] Also written qiblah [OED], kiblah, qiblih, kibla or qib'lah [RHU], sometimes capitalised 17th-century Arabic for 'the opposite'
qibli A local Libyan name for the sirocco, a southeasterly Mediterranean wind [OED] Also written ghibli Arabic قِبلي, "coming from the qibla
qid Four times a day [MW] Latin quater in die
qigong A Chinese system of medical exercises [ODE][C][AOX] Also written chi gong, ki gong, or chi kung simplified Chinese: 气功; traditional Chinese: 氣功
qin A classification of Chinese musical instruments [AOX] Chinese:
qinah A Hebrew elegy [WI] Also written kinah; plural qinot, qinoth and qindarkë Hebrew קינה
qindar An Albanian unit of currency, equal to one one-hundredth of a lek [ODE][L][C] Plural qindarka [L] or qindars [C]. Also written qintar [L][C][AOX] or quintal Albanian
qing A Chinese chime [MW] Also written as: ch'ing Chinese:
qinghaosu A drug, artemisinin, used to treat malaria [C] Chinese: 青蒿素
qingsongite A rare mineral found in China. Plural qingsongites named after geologist Qingsong Fang
qinter An Albanian money system [OED] Albanian
qipao A traditional Chinese dress [OED] Also written chi pao Chinese: 旗袍
qiran A currency of Iran between 1825 and 1932 [MW] Also written as: kran Persian qrān
qirsh A monetary unit of Saudi Arabia and, formerly, various other countries [RHU] Also written qurush, qursh, gursh, girsh or ghirsh
qiviut The wool of the musk-ox [OED] Inuktitut ᕿᕕᐅᖅ
qiyas An analogy in Sharia, Islamic law [RHW] Arabic قِيَاس
qoph The nineteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet [L][C] Also written koph Hebrew קוף
qorma A type of curry [Co] Much more commonly written korma PersianUrdu قورمه
QWERTY A standard English keyboard layout [ODE][COD][LC][C][AOX][OED] Plural qwertys or qwerties; also rendered QWERTY Named after the first letters on the top row of the QWERTY keyboard layout.
Qyrghyz Variant spelling of the people of Kyrgyzstan [MW] More commonly spelled Kyrgyz.
rencq An obsolete spelling of rank [OED]
sambuq A type of dhow, a small Arabian boat [OED] Arabic سَنْبُوك
sheqel A unit of weight originally used in Mesopotamia. The currency of Israel, divided into 100 agorot [MW] Plural sheqels or sheqalim; more commonly written shekel Hebrew שקל,
Yiddish ניי-שקל
souq An Arab marketplace [ODE][C][OED][AOX] Also written sooq, soq, suq, souk, esouk, or suk Arabic سُوق (sūq)
talaq A form of Islamic divorce [ODE][C][OED] Arabic طَلَاق (talāq), from talaqa 'repudiate'
taluq An Indian estate [OED] Also written taluk or talook ArabicUrdu تَعَلُّقَة (ta'alluqa) 'connection', 'relationship'
taluqdar A person who collects the revenues of a taluq [OED] Also written talukdar or talookdar ArabicUrdu تعلقدار (ta'alluq-dar) 'landholder', 'possessor of an estate', 'lord of a manor'
taluqdari An Indian landholding tenure [OED]
taqiya Concealing faith in Islam due to fear of persecution [RHW] Also written taqiyah [RHU], or capitalised Arabic التَقِيَّة
taqlid Acceptance of Muslim orthodoxy [RHW] Arabic تَقْلِيد
tariqa A Sufi method of spiritual development, or a Sufi missionary [E][AOX] Also written tariqat [E] or tarika Arabic طَرِيق
tranq Tranquilizer (sedative) [OED] Also written trank [OED] Apocopation from tranquilizer
tsaddiq In Judaism, a title for a righteous person [C][OED] Plural tsaddiqs or tsaddiqim; also written tzaddiq [C], tzadik or tzaddik Hebrew צדיק
umiaq An open Inuit boat [OSPD4] Also spelled umiak, umialak, umiac, oomiac or oomiak
waqf A charitable trust in Islamic law [ODE][C][OED] Also written wakf; plural waqf [ODE][C][OED] or waqfs [C][OED] Arabic, literally 'stoppage' from waqafa, 'come to a standstill'
xiangqi Chess variant native to China Chinese: 象棋
xiqin Traditional Chinese bowed string musical instrument Chinese: 奚琴
yangqin A trapezoidal Chinese hammered dulcimer [C] Chinese: 揚琴
yaqona A Fijian intoxicating beverage, kava [C][OED] Fijian yaqona, in which q represents [ŋɡ]

Uses in Scrabble[edit]

In many word games, notably in Scrabble, a player must build a word using a certain set of letters. If a player is obliged to use a q, but does not have a u, it may be possible to play words from this list. Not all words in this list are acceptable in Scrabble tournament games. Scrabble tournaments around the world use their own sets of words from selected dictionaries that might not contain all the words listed here.

Qi is the most commonly played word in Scrabble tournaments,[10] and was added to the official North American word list in 2006.[11]

Other words listed in this article, such as suq, umiaq or qiviut, are also acceptable, but since these contain a u, they are less likely to be useful in the situation described.[12]

List of dictionaries cited[edit]

  • [AH]: The American Heritage Dictionary (4 ed.). Dell. 2001. ISBN 0-440-23701-7.
  • [AHC]: American Heritage College Dictionary (4 ed.). Houghton Mifflin. 2007. ISBN 978-0-618-83595-9.
  • [AOX]: "Ask Oxford". Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  • [C]: The Chambers Dictionary (9 ed.). Chambers. 2003. ISBN 0-550-10105-5.
  • [Co]: Collins English Dictionary (3 ed.). HarperCollins. 1994. ISBN 0-00-470678-1.
  • [COD]: Concise Oxford Dictionary (8 ed.). Clarendon. 1990. ISBN 0-19-861200-1.
  • [E]: "Microsoft Encarta online dictionary". Archived from the original on November 2, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2006.
  • [L]: The Longman Dictionary of the English Language (5 ed.). Longman. 1988. ISBN 0-582-55511-6.
  • [LC]: The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (4 ed.). Longman. 2003. ISBN 0-582-77649-X.
  • [MW]: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11 ed.). Merriam-Webster. 2003. ISBN 0-87779-809-5.
  • [MWO]: "Merriam-Webster online dictionary". Archived from the original on September 22, 2017. Retrieved May 29, 2006.
  • [ODE]: Oxford Dictionary of English (2 ed.). Oxford UP. 2003. ISBN 0-19-861347-4.
  • [OED]: Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford UP. 2003. ISBN 0-19-861347-4.
  • [OSPD4]: The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (4 ed.). Merriam-Webster. 2005. ISBN 0-87779-929-6.
  • [RHU]: Random House Unabridged Dictionary (2 ed.). Random House. 1998. ISBN 0-517-19931-9.
  • [RHW]: Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (2 ed.). Random House. 2005. ISBN 0-375-42599-3.
  • [SOED]: The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles (3 ed.). Clarendon. 1992. ISBN 0-19-861294-X.
  • [TWL]: Official Tournament and Club Word List (2 ed.). Merriam-Webster. 2006. ISBN 0-87779-635-1.
  • [W]: Random House Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Random House Reference. 2000. ISBN 0-375-42560-8.
  • [WI]: Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster. 2002. ISBN 0-87779-201-1.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Sacks (2004). Letter Perfect: The Marvelous History of our Alphabet from A to Z. Random House. ISBN 0-7679-1173-3.
  2. ^ Lynn Kauer. "Qaqortoq". Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  3. ^ "Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Agree to Merge, Creating $87 Billion Global Technology Leader" (Press release). Hewlett-Packard. September 3, 2001. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
  4. ^ Michael J. De la Merced (February 18, 2011). "Nasdaq and ICE Hold Talks Over Potential N.Y.S.E. Bid". Dealbook. The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  5. ^ "Qantas frequent flyers get microchip cards, heralding new era in faster travel". The Independent. UK. November 13, 2009. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  6. ^ Andrew Buncombe (October 25, 2006). "Former CIA Chief Joins the Board of QinetiQ". The Independent. Archived from the original on October 23, 2020. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  7. ^ Mulla Sadra Shirazi (2010). Divine Manifestations: Concerning the Secrets of the Perfecting Sciences. ICAS Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-904063-35-3.
  8. ^ Toby A. H. Wilkinson (2001). Early Dynastic Egypt: Strategies, Society and Security. Routledge. p. 259. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
  9. ^ Robinson, Philip (1997). Ulster-Scots: A Grammar of the Traditional Written and Spoken Language. The Ullans Press. Archived from the original on 2004-03-14.
  10. ^ Playing the 'Q'. Huub Luyk. Sun.Star Baguio. October 5, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2010. Archived March 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Scrabble players adjust as official dictionary adds ' za, 'qi ' and 3,300 others." Archived 2012-03-06 at the Wayback Machine Vargia Linn. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 9, 2006. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  12. ^ Words with a Q not followed by a U fArchived 2010-10-06 at the Wayback Machine. Australian Scrabble Players Association. May 8, 2007. Retrieved October 18, 2010.