p's and q's

p's and q's

noun
manners; behavior; conduct (usually preceded by mind or watch ): The children were told to mind their p's and q's.

Origin:
1770–80; perhaps from some children's difficulty in distinguishing the two letters

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World English Dictionary
p's and q's
 
pl n
behaviour within social conventions; manners (esp in the phrase to mind one's p's and q's)
 
[altered from p(lea)se and (than)k-you's]

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