QWERTY

noun

QWER·​TY ˈkwər-tē How to pronounce QWERTY (audio) ˈkwer- How to pronounce QWERTY (audio)
variants or QWERTY keyboard
often not capitalized
: a standard English-language typewriter or computer keyboard on which the first six letters of the second row are q, w, e, r, t, and y
QWERTY may not have had the most sensible keyboard arrangement, but it had the advantage that it had been out longer than most other designs. Throughout the 1880s, typewriters with a variety of keyboard layouts were sold, but in the 1890s the market moved more and more toward QWERTY, and by the first decade of the twentieth century it had taken over.Robert Pool
The QWERTY keyboard, a central artifact of the information economy, was arranged in the 1870s with a deliberately awkward pattern of letters to slow typists down so they wouldn't jam the innards of early typing machines.Timothy K. Smith

Did you know?

If you look at the topmost row of letters on your computer keyboard, you’ll see where the QWERTY got its name. Why did Christopher Latham Sholes choose that particular arrangement of letters when he was developing the modern typewriter in the late 1860s and early 1870s? Popular myth holds that the QWERTY maximizes efficiency by placing the most often used letters in the most accessible places, but the truth is that the QWERTY was actually designed to slow typists down. Sholes’s first typewriters were cumbersome and jammed easily if the keys were pressed too fast, so he picked letter positions that let the typist go faster than a pen, but not fast enough to bollix the machine.

Examples of QWERTY in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But for the new Netflix thriller Heart of Stone, Gadot had to work to make something quite different believable: knowing her way around a QWERTY keyboard. Dustin Nelson, EW.com, 16 Aug. 2023 There’s a full QWERTY layout as well a row of function keys across the top to adjust the volume, control media playback and more. Nick Guy, wsj.com, 25 Sep. 2023 Regardless, after around 30 test models, Sholes and Glidden settled on QWERTY—and changed the world. Nick Yetto, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 Milwaukee celebrates 150th anniversary of universal, yet inefficient, QWERTY keyboard. USA TODAY, 23 June 2023 By 2002, the Brick’s bulky design had given way to slim phones like the T-Mobile Sidekick, which featured a full QWERTY keyboard, for instance. Michelle Delgado, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Apr. 2023 This one that's up for auction has the outdated infotainment system, the ugly center stack with more buttons than a QWERTY keyboard, and the lack of a few niceties that make the current G-class more livable. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 8 Nov. 2022 Dvorak uses a different arrangement of keys than the standard QWERTY layout with the aim of improving typing speed and ergonomic comfort. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 10 Oct. 2022 Samsung squeezed a new QWERTY keyboard with Swype on to the tiny touch screen and combined it with dictating and handwriting options. Matthew Humphries, PCMAG, 12 July 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'QWERTY.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

from the first six letters in the second row of the keyboard

First Known Use

1929, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of QWERTY was in 1929

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near QWERTY

Cite this Entry

“QWERTY.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/QWERTY. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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