8 June 2017

How did that come around? – Mind your P’s and Q’s

Ever wondered why do we say “mind your P’s and Q’s” to mean “be on your good behavior”? Well, I for one, never had a clue. So, started another research – and I am liking to get to know the origins of phrases and words enough that I have started a separate section in my blog dedicated to this.

My first instinct was that it came from trying to keep everything prim and proper by neatly separating your similar looking letter p’s and q’s. Well, turns out it is not “mind your p’s and q’s”. It is “P’s and Q’s”. Those are difficult to get confused with when you read, write or type.

Some people think – which is mostly denounced – it stands for your “Please”s and “Thank You”s. Even I agree that it is too far fetched.

Turns out the most popular theory goes back to the 17th century. In fact, to the bars of England. All beer and ale was served in pint size containers and quart size containers. While there is reference in literature to suggest that it started as a lingo with the barmen, it is not quite surely known whether it was used to warn somebody who has imbibed too much to behave himself or it was used to keep a proper tally of the alcohol consumption itself.

Well, while it is not accepted by everybody, most seem to believe that it was from the bars of the 17th century England came the saying “mind your P’s and Q’s” meaning to mind one’s manners.

Who knew?

Posted June 8, 2017 by Rajib Roy in category "Word Play


  1. By Sumit Rao on

    At first, I thought you are starting a credible competition to Merriam Webster’s given its rising popularity by trolling Trump. But, then the truth reveals itself – taking us along to the bar yet again for another riveting story telling session.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.