p's and q's

noun plural \ˌpēz-ən-ˈkyüz\

Definition of P'S AND Q'S

:  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>
:  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


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