Mind your Ps and Qs

The Phrase Finder explains the only thing that is clear about this expression is that it means you should “Be on your best behavior; be careful of your language.” The choices on the origin are:

  1. Minding pints and quarts while tallying drinks in English pubs (there’s little to support this one)
  2. Advice to printers and school children to avoid confusing the lowercase Ps and Qs (the favorite)
  3. Mind your pea (jacket) and queue (wig) (difficult to imagine why anyone would confuse the two)
  4. “Pee” as a coarse coat and “kue” as a man’s wig (again, difficult why those would be confused)
  5. Derived from an admonition to children to “mind their pleases and thank-yous” (which isn’t believed to lead to Ps and Qs)

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