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Thread: mind your own P's and Q's

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    mind your own P's and Q's

    Does someone know what P's and Q's mean?


    I know that all this phrase means to mind your manners and behave but I'd never known what exatcly are those P's and Q's
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    Re: mind your own P's and Q's

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil
    Does someone know what P's and Q's mean?


    I know that [_] this phrase means to mind your manners and behave, but I've never known what exactly those P's and Q's refered to.
    I heard once that it refered to old-style printers (I'm talking about big professional presses that made books and pamphlets -- not computer printers). Anyway, these worked with tiny, individual, metal letters called "type". The old-style printer would have to arrange these individual metal letters to spell out words (a long and tedious process). If you looked at one of the pieces of "type", the letter embossed on the surface would be reversed. Thus: it was very easy to confuse a "p" with a "q" if you weren't paying attention.

    Again ... this may be an urban myth, but it does make sense.

    There's also another explanation: That it stood for "Mind your Pints and Quarts" and was an expression used in British pubs to remind the bartender to pay attention to his work and serve the right amount.
    —Ravin' Dave

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Re: mind your own P's and Q's

    Quote Originally Posted by RavinDave
    Again ... this may be an urban myth, but it does make sense.
    It does indeed. Thanks.
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    I know that all this phrase means to mind your manners and behave
    Are you sure about that?

    My idiom dictionary says otherwise:


    Mind your p’s and q’s

    Pay attention to details: “We want this operation to run smoothly, so everyone please mind your p’s and q’s.” When learning to write, children often reverse these letters, so the teacher would admonish the students to be extra careful when writing them.
    Please correct my mistakes if you can, especially article usage.
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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vadim84
    I know that all this phrase means to mind your manners and behave
    Are you sure about that?

    My idiom dictionary says otherwise:


    Mind your p’s and q’s

    Pay attention to details: “We want this operation to run smoothly, so everyone please mind your p’s and q’s.” When learning to write, children often reverse these letters, so the teacher would admonish the students to be extra careful when writing them.
    I've already gathered my mistake from the answer of RavinDave
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vadim84
    When learning to write, children often reverse these letters, so the teacher would admonish the students to be extra careful when writing them.
    I've heard this offered as an explanation too, but I don't buy it.

    There simply aren't that many words with "q" in them that a child would encounter at that level. Certainly not enough to merit a slogan like "Mind your p's and q's". Why not the MUCH more common "b's" and "d's"?

    On the other hand, I don't pretend my examples are correct either. Maybe, yes. Maybe, no. The sad fact is that we don't always know the source of some expression -- even very popular ones. People write entire chapters on the source of the word: f***. Lots of entertaining speculation and theories appear, but no one really knows.

    Sometimes, we get lucky. We find the original quote. Sometimes, we don't.

    Oh ... and "mind your manners" is a perfectly good definition. That's just another way of saying: "Pay attention to how you're acting."
    —Ravin' Dave

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    Oh ... and "mind your manners" is a perfectly good definition. That's just another way of saying: "Pay attention to how you're acting."
    I thought "mind your manners" could only mean "behave yourself"
    Please correct my mistakes if you can, especially article usage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vadim84
    Oh ... and "mind your manners" is a perfectly good definition. That's just another way of saying: "Pay attention to how you're acting."
    I thought "mind your manners" could only mean "behave yourself"
    You're making it too difficult.

    At the most basic level "mind your p's and q's" simply means: "Pay attention!", or "Take heed!" or "Be aware!"

    The earliest example (from the Oxford English Dictionary) was a citation from 1779: "You must mind your P's and Q's with him, I can tell you.". That's someone warning another person to "pay close attention to detail" when you're dealing with that guy.

    When a mother tells an child "mind your p's and q's" she's telling him: "Pay attention to how you're acting so you can be on your best behavior".

    Both usages share the same core (paying attention).
    —Ravin' Dave

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    Почтенный гражданин BabaYaga's Avatar
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    Ramil - even native English speakers don't agree on this one.....

    Look here:

    http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/psandqs.htm

    I always heard the "pints and quarts" explanation myself.....
    Ой, голова у меня кружится |-P ...... and my brain hurts too....

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