mind one's p's and q's, to
mind (one's) p's and q's
To be polite and well behaved; to mind one's manners. Be sure to mind your p's and q's when you visit your aunt this weekend! The mother reminded her young children to mind their p's and q's when they went over to their friends' houses for play dates.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
mind one's p's and q's.
Prov. to behave properly; to display good manners. When you children go to visit Aunt Muriel, you'll have to mind your p's and q's; not like at home, where I let you do as you please. We'd better mind our p's and q's for this new teacher; I hear he's very strict.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
mind one's p's and q's
Practice good manners, be precise and careful in one's behavior and speech, as in Their grandmother often told the children to mind their p's and q's. The origin of this expression, first recorded in 1779, is disputed. Among the more interesting theories advanced is that bartenders kept track of customers' consumption in terms of pints (p's) and quarts (q's) and the phrase referred to an honest accounting; that schoolchildren were taught to be careful in distinguishing the letters p and q; and that French dancing masters cautioned pupils about the correct performance of the figures pieds and queues (either abbreviated or mispronounced in English as p's and q's).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
mind your p's and q'sor
watch your p's and q's
If you mind your p's and q's or watch your p's and q's, you try to speak and behave politely. She always minded her p's and q's in front of the queen, but their relationship wasn't that close. Note: This expression may originally have been a warning to children not to confuse p's and q's when learning the alphabet. Alternatively, `p's and q's' may stand for `pleases and thankyous', or expressions of politeness.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
mind your ˌP’s and ˈQ’s(informal) be careful how you behave; remember to be polite: Sally’s got very strict ideas about how her children should behave, so mind your P’s and Q’s.This expression probably refers to the P in ‘please’ and the pronunciation of ‘thank you’ which sounds like Q.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
mind one's p's and q's, to
To be very particular about one’s words and/or behavior. The original meaning of p and q has been lost, and there are various theories, ranging from “pints and quarts” in the bartender’s accounts, to children confusing the two letters in learning their alphabet, to the French dancing master’s pieds and queues, figures that must be accurately performed. The term was used from the seventeenth century on but is heard less often today.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
mind your p's and q's
Behave yourself. Opinion is divided over what the letters in the admonition to “mind your p's and q's” mean. They might have been two similar-looking letters that typesetters were warned not to confuse. They might have stood for pints and quarts that tavern keepers could have confused. Neither, however, is close to the idea of being on your best behavior, but p standing for “please” and q for “thank you” (pronounced thank-kew) does. And that's how generations of parents reminded their children to remember their manners.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price