When you were little might have been told
‘with a wagging finger and eyes that scold
“little child be on your best
never your teacher put to the test
mind your manners
be good each day
the letters P and Q a guiding ray”
When I was little I remember my aunt (who was a teacher) telling me to mind my Ps and Qs. The understanding was to mind your manners. So when I looked up the origin to that statement I found an inconclusive but interesting findings from The Phrase Finder.
1. “Mind your pints and quarts.” A common practice in an alehouse was to chalk a tally of drinks for each patron. It is also suggested that a bartender might yell “mind your ps and qs” if patrons were getting out of hand.
2. “Advice to printers’ apprentices to avoid confusing the backward-facing metal type lowercase Ps and Qs, or the same advice to children who were learning to write.”
3. Mind your pea (jacket) and queue (wig). Instructions to sailors in the 18th century.
4. “Mind your pieds (feet) and queues (wigs).” This instruction given by French dancing instructors to their students.
5. ‘advice to children’ origin has it that ‘Ps and Qs’ refers to ‘mind your pleases and thank-yous”.
Do you have the inside track on what this saying means?
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