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  1. #1
    blueeye's Avatar
    blueeye is offline Junior Member
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    Default Mind your own P's and Q's

    I've been rading Roald Dahl's The Magic Finger to my kid. There is an interesting idiom in the following sentence:

    The boys laughed and made faces at me, and Mr Gregg told me to go home and mind my own P's and Q's.

    Well, obviously it means to mind your own business, but I'm interested in origin of the phrase. Can anyone help me?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    thedaffodils's Avatar
    thedaffodils is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Mind your own P's and Q's

    I am not a teacher.

    Mind one's p's and q's refers to:

    • to behave properly; to display good manners
    • to pay close attention to small details
    Reference source:
    mind p's and q's - Idioms - by the Free Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    The letters of p and q should be in lower case, or the idiom wouldn't make sense. I think p and q look quite similar to each other, and people tend to mix them, so people have to pay close attention.

  3. #3
    Kondorosi is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Mind your own P's and Q's

    Quote Originally Posted by thedaffodils View Post
    I am not a teacher.

    Mind one's p's and q's refers to:

    • to behave properly; to display good manners
    • to pay close attention to small details

    Reference source:
    mind p's and q's - Idioms - by the Free Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    The letters of p and q should be in lower case, or the idiom wouldn't make sense. I think p and q look quite similar to each other, and people tend to mix them, so people have to pay close attention.

  4. #4
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Mind your own P's and Q's

    In addition, "in the old days" type was set on a press and it was backwards, so the p looked like a q and vice versa. You had to really pay attention to make sure you used a q where you wanted a q, because the p would have looked like a normal q.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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