Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mind your "P's" and "Q's"


I could have also used this for P--but here's my Q.

How many times have you said "watch your P's and Q's and really didn't know where the saying came from?

Well I was very curious and have been studying this phrase the past week.

I found the following explanations from Wickepedia  but no one can know for sure the true origination.

1. Parents have used this to stand for "p" being please and "q"- being for excuse me-the q sounding like ex-cuse.  P and Q being easier for them to pronounce.

2. A possibility from English bartenders in the seventeenth century, they would keep an eye on the alcohol consumption of their customers.  They watched how many pints and quarts were consumed.
 They would say to the patrons "watch your "ps" and "q's.

3.  Maybe it came from sailors in the eighteen century who were reminded to pay attention to their peas (pea coat) and queues (pony tail).

4. This origin I think is more than likely the origin--it comes from the early printing presses.  Printers placed individual letters on a frame to print a page of text.  If the letters were reversed (they are right next to each other) it would be easy to mis-spell a word. They were fined for every spelling mistake!!! I can easily see how you would remind those to watch their "ps" and "qs".

I think of our children when they are learning the alphabet how easy it is to mixed these letters up!!!

There have been books written on this subject if you want to learn more!!

Linking with  ABC Wednesday



Carver said...

Great idea for Q. I've wondered about the expression but haven't researched it. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

Marleen said...

Interesting post! Thanks for sharing.

photowannabe said...

Great Q post. I think the printing explanation is probably the best and most logical answer.

Anonymous said...

In journalism class in the 70s I learned it was from the printing press letters from the early days of news and handbill printing. As in to keep tidy and correct...watch your Ps and Qs!
Gerat post for "Q"!

Roger Owen Green said...

I'd always heard it was the printing issue.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team'

Hildred said...

Oh definitely, I think it is the printing issue, - the rest are entertaining but pretty far fetched.


I have always loved this phrase, now I know so much more about its origins! (Yup, I agree with others on the printing issue too:)

Theresa said...

I have heard that all of my life but never knew what it actually meant:) Have a blessed day dear friend, HUGS!

Gerald (SK14) said...

I always thought is was explanation #1 but like many of these things there can be more than one origin and they can develop independantly of one another.

Annesphamily said...

This was so interesting! I really enjoyed your share. Always fun learning something new!

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