noun, often not capitalized
QWER·​TY | \ ˈkwər-tē How to pronounce QWERTY (audio) , ˈkwer- How to pronounce QWERTY (audio) \
variants: or QWERTY keyboard

Definition of QWERTY

: 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.

First Known Use of QWERTY

1929, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for QWERTY

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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best wireless keyboards.

Learn More About QWERTY

Listen to Our Podcast About QWERTY

Dictionary Entries Near QWERTY

Q wedge



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for QWERTY

Cite this Entry

“QWERTY.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/QWERTY. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!