P & Q

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Thu Apr 23 11:30:51 UTC 2009

So, does this cite and the other cite ("So now you're in your Ps and
Qs") suggest a clothing etymology?

Does the "P"  here stand for "perfumed"? What would the "Q" be?

Very, very interesting.

Could we have polygenesis for the phrase? Could a clothing ety, and a
handwriting/printing ety both be influenced by the proximity of the
letters in the alphabetic ordering?

---Amy West

>Date:    Wed, 22 Apr 2009 08:52:26 -0400
>From:    Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
>Subject: a third Th. Dekker "P. and Q."
>The two earliest quotations in OED "P's and Q's, n." Draft Revision March 2009
>are from Thomas Dekker. Here's a third.
>Thomas Dekker. Match Me in London. (published 1631 but apparently written many
>years earlier)
>Act 2 Scene 1
>A shop opened, Enter Bilbo and Lazarillo.
>[Gallants enter, no sale, and exit]
>Laz. Their powder is dankish and will not take fire.
>Bilbo. Reach that paper of gloves, what marke is't?
>Laz. P. and Q.
>Enter Malevento.
>Bilbo. P. and Q., chafe these, chafe, chafe, here's a world to make
>Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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