phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"on the QT"

Posted by ESC on December 10, 2001

In Reply to: "On the QT" posted by R. Berg on December 10, 2001

: : : looked it up in an online phrase meaning site.. but all it said was keeping something secret... dah!
: : : What does the "qt" stand for? thx bunches!

: : Nothing definitive but QT could just be short for the word quiet and hence secret.

: That's what it is. The link below goes to a previous discussion ( bulletin_board 11 messages 872.html).

Q.T. - "A British broadside ballad contained the line 'Whatever I tell you is on the Q.T.' This is the first record of Q.T. for 'on the quiet, in confidence' recorded in English, but no one has established whether the broad-side's anonymous author was the first person to use the initials Q.T. to stand for quiet.

'On the Q.T.' gained more popularity when it appeared in an 1891 minstrel show number called 'Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay.' London 'went stark mad over the refrain,' which was written by Henry J. Sayers and sung by Lottie Collins. The first stanza follows:
A sweet Tuxedo girl you see,
Queen of swell society,
Fond of fun as fun can be
When it's on the strict Q.T.
I'm not too young, I'm not too old,
Not too timid, not too bold,
Just the kind of sport I'm told -

If you or your children grew up with 'Howdy Doody' (a U.S. children's show) you'll notice the similarity between 'Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay' and Howdy's theme song." From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).