We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does It Mean to "Mind Your Ps and Qs"?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Mind your Ps and Qs can mean to be careful, vigilant, or, more often, polite. For example, a mother might mention that Aunt Gertrude is a stickler for manners and the children had better mind their Ps and Qs when she visits. There are several suggested origins for the phrase, which often differ from the way it is now used.

In the 17th century, the letters stood for "prime quality." Ps and Qs were often written as pees and kews. It is cited in the Oxford English Dictionary as having been used in a quote in Rowland’s Knave of Hearts. A character orders alcohol and asks that it be Pee and Kew, suggesting prime quality.

In the 19th century, the term became associated with the difficulty of learning which way these letters faced in the lower case. Teachers told students to learn their Ps and Qs. This could have been similarly applied to other lower case letters like Bs and Ds, however. Also dance teachers may have enjoined students to remember their pieds and queues, two dance moves.

Another possible point of origin for the phrase is the practice of bartenders keeping marks on tabs of ale served in pints or quarts. A person with little money might enjoin the bartender to mind his Ps and Qs to avoid being overcharged. In fact a bartender who didn’t mind them could be accused of cheating his customers.

Some suggest that the letters might be an abbreviation for please and thank you. This connects most with the current meaning of the phrase. Clearly someone who is minding his or her manners would likely remember to say please and thank you.

Regardless of origin, the term is less frequently used than it was half a century ago. A child enjoined to mind his Ps and Qs might look with confusion on such directions. However, parents might well teach their children the current meaning of the expression. This can prevent children from staring in an unmannerly way at people using the phrase.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor,...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.