2 years ago
Last edited at 7:07PM on 7/4/2011
In the early days of printing the type was kept in two cases above the layout table. The capital letters were kept in the upper case and the smaller letters were kept in the lower case.
In the lower case the p's and q's were side by side and they looked so similar (one was the reverse of the other) that it was easy to pick up the wrong one by mistake. So the advice given to typesetters was to "watch your p's and q's".
Nowadays, of course, it just means that we should pay attention to detail.
According to my research, I have found that there are numerous different hypotheses or theories that try to define the origin of the phrase, nevertheless there is no specific evidence as to which is correct. The early printing presses and English pubs and taverns of the ancient times are some of the places where this phrase originated.
Long time ago in bars the owner used to keep score of how much people owed him on a board he wrote how many pints and quarts were owed to him by people, thus the saying means mind your pints (p's) and quarts (q's) as to how much you owe the bar owner
In English pubs people would order beer in pints and quarts so when someone would warn someone not to drink too much they would say mind your p's and q's. Like watch how many pints and quarts you drink