Printing phrases and the meanings behind them
1st June 2010
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This week on the Print Hut website, we are looking at where some common or not so common phrases came from, and these all have a meaning which relates to some form of Printing.

Mind ya P’s and Q’s Gov

The printing industry has been around for donkies years and its impact on our society over those years has been nothing less than extraordinary. This week Print Hut are looking at the printers’ own rather odd language that has evolved over the decades and how certain phrases have made their way out of the print rooms of every town in the country and into our modern language of today;

Number 1: ‘Mind ya P’s and q’s’

Origination of phrase:

Most  printers of the older generation will tell you that 'mind your Ps and Qs' was a common expression in the composing room, where apprentices were prone to confusing lowercase Ps and Qs when setting or dissing type (putting it back into the type case). Type sorts  are a mirror image of the letter they print and they're set upside down in the composing stick, so it's a very easy mistake to make even for experienced comps, so all very confusing.

The common usage today is roughly equivalent to mind your manners, or as a more specific reminder to say please and thank you. It's quite a jump from the composing room to this modern use, but it wouldn't be the first idiom to change its meaning over time, and you can imagine older comps delivering this mild reprimand to their children without giving it much thought. When it's your turn in charge, it's amazing how you find the voices of authority from your own youth suddenly speaking from your lips, and I certainly remember having this told to me when I was younger and now passing it onto the next generation!!!!
Keeping looking on the website daily for the meanings of put to bed, out of sorts, knats cock and mullered.
About the Author

charlotte a

Member since: 26th June 2012

I am married to Wayne and a busy mum of 2 active boys aged 10 & 7 who both now attend Crosshall school and they keep me busy with all their different hobbies.
I currently work at®,...

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