Put the "ing" in your Boating

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Mind Your P's and Q's. What does this mean and what is it's nautical origin?

Damon and Dennis have some great explanation as to the origin of this expression.

Another is this. In the days of sail when sailors were paid a pittance, seamen drank their ale in taverns whose keepers were willing to extend credit until payday. Since many salts were illiterate, keepers kept a talley of pints and quarts consumed by each sailor on a chalkboard behind the bar. Next to each person's name a mark was made under "P" for pint or "Q" for quart whenever a seaman ordered another draught.

On payday, each seaman was liable for each mark next to his name so he was forced to "mind his Ps and Qs" or get into financial trouble. To ensure an accurate count by unscrupulous keepers, sailors had to keep their wits and remain somewhat sober. Sobriety usually ensured good behavior, hence the meaning of "mind your Ps and Qs".

It is really interesting to read all the different nautical explanations for the term "Mind your P's and Q's". There are probably more, so if you know another, please add below.

 

Comments (2)

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It's a term from England and it is what the captain told the sailors when they left for shore leave. Mind your pints and quarts. Don't drink to much.

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Actually, the finer gentlemen of old England and America would travel with a man servant or valet. That person was responsible for the gentry's portable bar, which consisted of a wooden box storing decanters of spirits in varying sizes mostly...

Actually, the finer gentlemen of old England and America would travel with a man servant or valet. That person was responsible for the gentry's portable bar, which consisted of a wooden box storing decanters of spirits in varying sizes mostly pints and quarts. To mind one's "Ps & Qs" was to care for the gentleman's traveling bar. Granted this could happen on land or sea.

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