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Phrases And Their Origins

Minding Your P's And Q's

This is a curious expression in that not only do we not know its derivation, we haven't even a bastard clue what it means. But people still say it. So, what do they think they're saying when they use this expression. And why do we have it in the first place?

There's 1.01 (a penny and a quid) for the best answer.



Minding your Ps and Qs - an interesting phrase about which people have talked a load of bollocks

- In England they order drinks in Pints and Quarts so at closing time or when people have to leave the bar for a while the barman will shout "mind your Ps and Qs" meaning "watch your pints and quarts" - bollocks
- Printers have to look at moveable type with the letters reversed, so that a p looks like a q and a q looks like a p, so they have to be careful - possibly not bollocks
- It's a call to be polite and is short for "mind your pleases and thank-yous" - bollocks



Minding your P's and Q's is a warning about drinking beer (whether in pints or quarts) at a faster rate than you can go and piss it.

In pubs these days, this is rarely a problem as when your bladder starts feeling a bit full it's not usually much of a problem making your way to the gents and finding a vacant space at the urinal. But in an establishment where peeing space is restricted, queues can form and this can be bloody uncomfortable when you're at bursting point.

The worst places are house parties, typically student parties where the house has been designed to accommodate as many people as possible yet provides only one bog. Get caught in one of those queues and you're shagged, in fact someone will be quite literally because somewhere ahead of you someone will have a shag in the bog delaying your piss further.

So, the term "P's and Q's" refers to pees and queues and is indeed a call to be polite. Let's face it, who's polite at a student party, eh? We all end up getting pissed off queueing for a pee and go and do it in a potted plant or the punch bowl, don't we?

I remember one Christmas party when I was dying for a shit and I'd really got the turtle's head and couldn't get to the bog and desperately needed to find somewhere to lay it where it wouldn't be noticed. Then I saw the yule log on a serving plate in the kitchen and... I'm sorry, I'm digressing.

A more detailed discussion of Ian's answer can be found on his own web page at http://baptism.co.nz/gram22.html. He still doesn't win the prize 'though.

Phrases And Their Origins

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