1
: something (such 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 ownJean Stafford
2
: best behavior
being on her p's and q's for two solid days was too muchGuy McCrone

Word History

Etymology

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, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of p's and q's was in 1779

Dictionary Entries Near p's and q's

Cite this Entry

“P's and q's.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/p%27s%20and%20q%27s. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

p's and q's

noun
: something (as manners) that one should be careful about
always minded my p's and q's around my aunts and uncles

More from Merriam-Webster on p's and q's

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