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The term p.d.q. is an acronym that is more often spoken than written. When written, p.d.q. is most often seen in informal communications such as emails and memos. We’ll look at what the acronym p.d.q. means and where it came from, as well as a few examples of its use.

The acronym p.d.q. stands for the phrase pretty damn quick. The term p.d.q. originated in America during the 1870s, a time when many abbreviations of words and phrases were coined. The term p.d.q. can be traced to a play penned by Benjamin E. Woolf called The Mighty Dollar, which debuted in 1875. In the play, the character of the judge states, “That’s right, you’d better step P.D.Q., pretty damn quick.” The phrase pretty damn quick had been in use for at least thirty-five years by the time it was shortened into an acronym. The acronym saw a resurgence in its use with the advent of P.D.Q. Bach, a fictional character invented by Peter Schickele. Schickele performed pseudo-classical and baroque music that he attributed to P.D.Q. Bach, a fictional son of the famous J.S. Bach, in comical fashion. While the Oxford English Dictionary spells the acronym with lowercase letters and periods as in p.d.q., it is often seen capitalized and without periods as in PDQ.


As I said, our P.D. here is corrupter even than a corrupt P.D. ought to be, so Lefty’s hassling could have been totally bogus, just a typical shakedown; but the client was in a hurry, and wanted to find out PDQ whether Regnerus was on the up-and-up. (The National Review)
As such, it advances accurate hit detection via velocity, continuous radius, and pressure sensitivity with a p.d.q. (pretty damn quick) playing surface to die for. (Sonic State Magazine)