The old saying "mind your p's and q's" was always told to me as a suggestion to pay attention to details. These details could be spelling, manners or just plain hygiene.
The answer goes back to the days of early printing.
All books and newspapers were put together by hand and the 'Print Setter' was an extremely important job.
Not only did he have to be well educated he had to be able to spell and do it all at speed.
If you think about it, to set up a line of print you have to set it up backwards so as to create a mirror image on the page.
Look at the lower case letters p and q now imagine them backwards.
There are actually several contested theories for the origination of this phrase. The printing press answer, referenced by another member is by far the most popular.
Another origin comes from English pubs and taverns of the seventeenth century. Bartenders would keep a watch on the alcohol consumption of the patrons; keeping an eye on the pints and quarts that were consumed. As a reminder to the patrons, the bartender would recommend they "mind their Ps and Qs". This may also have been a reminder to bartenders not to confuse the two units, written as "p" and "q" on the tally slate.
by kallini20103 years ago
Did you know that the expression "A sound mind in a sound body" was incomplete?It was one of my mother's favourite expressions and it was delivered to me on a daily basis when I was a child. In Latin. ...
by CWanamaker6 years ago
What is your favorite idiom, saying, or proverb?
Copyright © 2018 HubPages Inc. and respective owners.
Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners.
HubPages® is a registered Service Mark of HubPages, Inc.
HubPages and Hubbers (authors) may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.