Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

p's and q's

play
noun plural \ˌpēz-ən-ˈkyüz\

Definition of p's and q's

  1. 1 :  something (as one's manners) that one should be mindful of <better watch his p's and q's when I get a six-gun of my own — Jean Stafford>

  2. 2 :  best behavior <being on her p's and q's for two solid days was too much — Guy McCrone>



Origin of p's and q's

from the phrase mind one's p's and q's, alluding to the difficulty a child learning to write has in distinguishing between p and q


First Known Use: 1779


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up p's and q's? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 5, 2016

bread traditionally eaten on Shabbat

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet spindrift kittly-benders pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ