Reader survey: do you cut, butt, or budge in line?

Waiting for the bus this morning, CJ told another kid not to budge in line.  “You mean butt in line,” I said.  “DADDY,” CJ said, giggling, “you are being silly.”  “No, seriously,” I said, “it’s butt, not budge.”  So we asked the other kids in line, and all agreed — when you force your way into a line, you are “budging.”

I researched this, and indeed — “budge in line” is Wisconsin / Minnesota dialect.  (It’s also apparently common in Western Canada, for some reason.)  This was news to me.  Tanya reports hearing “ditch in line” as a kid, which is apparently some kind of Ohio thing.

So:  do you cut, butt, or budge?  And where are you from?

(Subsidiary question:  is there a poll site, a la surveymonkey, that will allow me to set this up as an online poll, ask respondents for the zip code of their home town, and then plot the answers on the map?)

63 thoughts on “Reader survey: do you cut, butt, or budge in line?

  1. Tom Leinster says:

    Personally, I jump the queue. When I was at school, I queue-barged. I’m from the south coast of England.

  2. Michelle says:

    Definitely cut. Grew up in So. Cal. You butt into a conversation, but not into line. And budge? What is that?

  3. Jayadev Athreya says:

    We budged in Central Iowa.

  4. Dave says:

    Concur with the usage of “budge” in western Canada. Well — actually, “don’t budge in line” sounds odd to my ears, but “hey, no budging!” is fine.

  5. For me, it’s definitely “cut”; I grew up in Oregon.

  6. Terence Tao says:

    Jordan, I think you should be able to set up a poll from your wordpress dashboard. (Tenth item on the sidebar, a circular button, just above the Ratings button and below the feedback button.)

    Oh, and “cut”/Australia.

  7. Julie. says:

    I thought “cutting in” was purely an Americanism— for me (Australia, but rural Victoria rather than Adelaide) it was “pushing in”. But “queue-jumpers” is now used a lot.

  8. Cut is active vocabulary for me, butt is passive vocabulary, budge is newfangled and get-off-my-lawn-you-kids. From Ohio/raised in California/Arizona.

  9. Richard Kent says:

    Cut in line, for me, but it’s butt into the conversation.

    I’m from North Carolina.

  10. nichole says:

    Cutting in line is bad form in Milwaukee. There’s a book:

  11. Richard Séguin says:

    “Budge in line” is new to me. It’s too many years to remember with certainty, but I think we said “cut in line” in northwestern Wisconsin where I grew up.

  12. Jeff says:

    Cut / grew up in VA

  13. NDE says:

    “cut”. Never heard of “budge into” anything, nor “butt in(to) line”. [Zip = 10002, now 02138]

  14. Michael Lugo says:

    In Philadelphia we cut in line.

  15. JSE says:

    I know I can set up a WordPress poll, but I don’t just want the numbers, I want the locations!

  16. JSE says:

    I own the A-C volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English and was extremely disappointed not to find “budge in line” there!

  17. Richard Séguin says:

    Cool! Do you have the whole set?

  18. Diana says:

    Cut in line, and butt into a conversation. I grew up in Seattle. But I also request that we “budge up” if we need to squeeze more people onto a bench, which I think is a recent acquisition (when you’re little you’re not in charge of seating), and I’ve been living in England for about nine years.

  19. Jim says:

    Another California vote for cut in line & butt into a conversation. I’d never even heard of the other North American variants till now.

  20. Craig Citro says:

    Three things:

    * cut, FL

    * As far as written english, the data suggests that my Floridian ways are in the right, at least for lines:

    “Butt in” makes a respectable showing.

    * Obligatory: google docs will let you make a form in a Google spreadsheet, and enter the results into particular columns of the spreadsheet. New spreadsheet, Tools -> Form -> Create a Form. There are a bunch of options once you’ve got that part done.

  21. nichole says:

    Whoa! I’m surprised and disappointed too! (I also should buy a copy, it seems like a fun thing to have around.)

  22. Andy Putman says:

    I grew up in Atlanta, and I cut in line and butt into a conversation.

  23. “Jump the queue”, or, somewhat less frequently, “cut in line.” New Zealand.

  24. Artie Prendergast-Smith says:

    Similarly, in Ireland, we skip the queue.

  25. NDE says:

    Maybe “budge in” originates as “barge in” in an R-dropping dialect?

  26. Dear Julie,

    I was desperately trying to remember what we said. (I’ve been away for too long!) But now, reminded by your post, I can confirm that in rural Victoria, and also in Melbourne, we said “pushing in”. Thank you!

  27. rmb says:

    In northern New Jersey and New York City, we talked about cutting the line (but I’m not sure we talked about cutting *in* line).

  28. rmb says:

    My roommate from Michigan says “cut in line” is the usual expression.

  29. KConrad says:

    Around NYC in the 70s/80s the term was cutting *in* line (it sounds right to me…). We also stood *on* line, but I wonder if that’s used less often there after online acquired a meaning.

  30. KConrad says:

    I now remember something else about inconsistent regional terminology. A friend from New York was in Ohio, went into a pizza place, and asked if he could have “a slice”. The guy behind the counter said “Sorry, we only sell 7-Up.”

  31. rmb says:

    We definitely still stood on line in the 90s/00s.

  32. Leila says:

    Cut in line, butt into someone else’s business, and refuse to budge when asked to move over (from Massachusetts). But my father, who’s from New York, frequently said “Don’t cut in” to mean “don’t interrupt”.

  33. Carson Carson says:

    I live in Vancouver, BC and use “cut or butt in” but hear “budge in ” quite a lot and it annoys me.Use budge for trying to move an overly heavy object. As in” i pushed and pushed but it would not budge an inch”

  34. Michelle says:

    I live in Wisconsin and always said butt in line growing up. My son (7) says budge and I have corrected him several times because it annoys me as well. On Monday this week I was at his school during morning announcements and there was an announcement about budging in line is disrespectful. And just today a co-worker corrected me that it is budged when I jokingly asked ‘did you just butt in line?’ I don’t like budge, so I am sticking with butt.

  35. Michelle says:

    I just googled budge after countless arguments with DH about this very usage and now I see I am vindicated! Growing up in upstate NY, budging referred to inserting oneself into a line out of turn, as in, “Hey! S/he just budged!” Usually the accuser is the one most immediately affected: “You just budged in front of me!” Where I’m from, the reference to the line is understood, so most would find “He just budged in line” to be redundant. You might also describe a chaotic and frustrating queue to someone by saying, “This stinks–people keep budging. “

  36. Dennis says:

    During my Minnesota childhood in the ’50s “butting in line” was always used. Our children’s generation said “budging in line” or “budging”. My wife, an elementary teacher, remembers the changeover happening in the ’70s.

  37. Maggie says:

    In Minneapolis, Minnesota in the ’70s/’80s it was “butting in line”. Now, in Minneapolis I hear kids at the bus-stop using “budging in line” and it annoys me. Interesting change, I wonder why!

  38. Ben says:

    From Manitoba (Canada) myself, where it was always “cut in line,” “no cutting,” “no cuts” etc. Moving to Ontario years back I noticed the phrase “no budding” was the norm. I feel this is likely a bastardization of “no butting.” As I can’t linguistically see the connection to “bud.” But most people seem to say and think “budding” here — though it’s rarely written down. It could also be a variation on “budge” I guess. All I know for sure is I miss “cut” which is the only one that sounds normal to me. ;)

  39. Kevin says:

    In Northeast Iowa we always cut in line. Budging or butting sounds strange to me.

  40. Abigail says:

    Plain and simple, all my life I grew up in Illinois farmland; You CUT in line and you were marked rude. But when I moved to Missouri and my dad remarried, both my step siblings agreed BUTTING in line was not cool. There was conflict in the family and ever since then I’ve wanted to know. But budging? What? This is new

  41. Kevin Stirtz says:

    I’m a native Minnesotan (over 40) and we always said “bud in line” or “butt in line”. Never “budge”. If you look at the dictionary definitions, “butt” seems to make the most sense as in ” to thrust or push headfirst”. Not that a dictionary ever stopped us from misusing the English language. LOL

  42. KConrad says:

    I was reminded of this blog post discussion when I read the end of the article on Scott Walker’s emails at where he is reported to have written “The next problem will be editorials and this can nip it in the butt.” Do Wisconsinites really say “nip it in the butt” instead of “nip it in the bud” (and not “nip it in the budge” :))? Or is this a plain mistake by the governor?

  43. ann says:

    Budge .I am from upstate NY:)

  44. Jerry says:

    Never heard anyone say budge in line. It doesn’t make sense. Here in Minnesota and Illinois where I’m from it’s butt in line and has nothing to do with a person’s butt. More like a ram butting.

  45. Gilda Pittmon says:

    I’m from Toronto, ON and we grew up saying butt in line. My husband grew up in Cleveland OH and he said cut in line.

  46. Tim says:

    Growing up in NW Illinois in the 1970s, it was “cutting in line”. Where I live now in SW Wisconsin, it’s “budging”. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing or a location thing.

  47. jenny says:

    Upstate Ny, and definitely Budging

  48. adrianz says:

    Born in the 90s, raised in Vancouver. I’ve only used and heard budge from the people around my age (i.e in school I’d only ever heard “Mrs Smith, Tom budged!”). That being said, I don’t find butt or cut weird. Just not the first word I think of when time comes.
    I think you not only have to ask for location but also cohort, since the habits change with time.

  49. Ben says:

    I’ve been following these occasional replies with interest. Already shared my experience above, but I have a theory, based on nothing but my tangled brain:

    “Cut” and “butt” in line both make some sense, lexically. You “cut” in line like you cut a rope, by dividing it into two parts. You “butt” in line in the sense that you interrupt the line, as in butting into a conversation. The fact they seem to be the two most common words used for “queue jumping” (as the Brits say) would follow.

    The other variants mentioned, “budge” and “bud,” seem to likely stem from “butt.” Neither of them on their own make sense based on the prior meaning of those words. To “budge” is to move something that is stuck, or adjust it slightly, which doesn’t describe cutting a line very well.

    “Bud” is not really a transitive verb used with people at all. Plants can bud, and you can be a “budding pianist” but what does it mean “to bud?” Certainly doesn’t describe cutting a line either.

    My guess is that in some places (Minnesota, Ontario, Upstate NY I’m looking at you) “butt” (and maybe even “cut”) sounded rough or rude to prudish ears. “Bud” is an easy replacement as “budding” and “butting” sound identical in most North American accents. “Budge” is odder, and might have it’s own origin story, but just looks and sounds similar enough to “butt” and “bud” that I believe it could be related.

  50. Sam says:

    For me, it’s always butt in line / Northern England

  51. […] she cut in line.) Leave the safety of the Midwest and people will have no clue what you are saying. A blogpost about the matter had a comment section that was very telling about this word confusion.  Some people voiced their […]

  52. Matt Westerhaus says:

    Definitely budging. From Minnesota. Didn’t even know people call it anything different

  53. Nicole Angulo says:

    We said ‘bud’ in line, the kids where I work now say budge. Northwestern Ontario for both places, but now I’m more north and west than before. Almost as west as you can go.

  54. ColdFusion says:

    I sadly grew up in Minnesota, but I spent my entire childhood telling the OTHER kids it was budging. I assumed ‘butting’ (or ‘budding’ as they consistently pronounced it) was the MN dialect, which I naturally tried to avoid. I’m not sure how I learned budging when everyone else said butting, but I assumed it was from TV or my California parents, like everything else I said (I proudly insisted on ‘soda’. it’s on the damned label)

  55. Ben says:

    That’s pretty funny! You were like a self-hating Minnesotan :) I can relate, being a Canadian who has never willingly said “eh” for any reason. The butting/budding thing is also interesting. The soft “budding” pronunciation of “butting” would be the norm for most North Americans, but it seems from that, at least in parts of Canada, people have modified the entire word to “bud.” People say “don’t bud in line,” etc. Though I still haven’t heard many people say “cut,” which was definitely standard where I grew up in Manitoba — probably the closest thing to Minnesota by Canadian standards (they even almost rhyme!)

  56. Chris says:

    We say “butt in line” 8’ utah

  57. Lisa says:

    Kids here say skip butI say Butt in

  58. Lisa says:

    Butt** in

  59. Ben says:

    A Canadian from Manitoba who said “cut” without fail as a kid, I’m now in Toronto with my own kid and am crestfallen when he comes home from school saying “no budding” as all the other southern Ontarian kids do… I feel like if I convert him to “cutting” he’ll be mocked by the other kids. There is also the modern-day issue of the meaning of “cutting” as self-harm. Sigh, the struggle is real.

  60. bob says:

    Definitely budge the line!!! Go Minnesota!

  61. Paula says:

    I believe the change from butt to budge happened in schools to counteract the silliness kids would have saying the word butt.

  62. Darrell says:

    In Toronto, it was always “butt” or “bud” in line, but when I moved to BC it’s “budge” here

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