So, Is 'Barbecue' or 'Barbeque' the Correct Spelling?

Take a 'cue from your high school Spanish class
Is It Spelled 'Barbecue' or 'Barbeque'?
Photo: Marianna Massey/Getty Images

Put aside your stance on Hawaiian pizza and whether or not Miracle Whip counts as mayo for a moment. When it comes to divisive food topics, no meal has spanned more debates than smoky, fall-apart pork shoulders and thick-cut slices of peppery brisket. Even after you've signed an armistice over whether you should sprinkle your ribs with a dry rub or slather them in a sticky sauce, the world of smoked meats has yet to solve the most pressing argument of all: Is that plateful of pulled pork barbecue or barbeque?

Take a road trip through the great, meaty South, and you'll find as many variations of the noun as there are hickory-smoked joints themselves. And while the two spellings are both considered correct (with identical pronunciations), barbecue happens to be just a little more correct.


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The word barbecue originates from a term Taíno Indians used to refer to their wooden cooking structures; Spanish explorers later added it to their own vocabulary via the word barbacoa. As for barbeque? The q is said to come from the French term barbe à queue (translation: "whisker to tail") and was one of the many spelling variations that arose long before someone decided to officially add the cooking method to the dictionary.

When in doubt, just go for the slightly ambiguous abbreviation, BBQ.

Correction: The word barbacoa actually originated from the Taíno Indians, and refers to the wooden cooking structure they used to roast meats. It was later incorporated into the Spanish vocabulary via conquistadors who brought the cooking method back with them to Spain.


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