Speculation regarding the origins of the phrase “Mind your p’s and q’s” goes back to the 1800s. Some believe the saying is a reminder to make a distinction between lowercase letters p and q. Others insist that "Ps and Qs" is a short phrase representing "pleases" and "thank-yous", with the “Q” representing the sound made when the “K” at the end of “thank” leads into the “Y” of “you.” Another proposed origin is from the English references to pints and quarts, a reminder to not confuse the two units, written as "p" and "q" on the tally slate. Another interpretation is based on the related expression of pee and kew, which represents "highest quality" as it was used in 17th-century English A French reference to P’s and Q’s could originate from French instructions to mind one's pieds (feet) and queues (wigs) while dancing. There are other interpretations for possible historical origins, but for all intents and purposes, if your parent or teacher says to “mind your p’s and q’s,” you should probably – as my daddy used to say – straighten up and fly right, which opens up a whole new perspective on phrases used to indicate undefined behavior!
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