i was the town hall the movie L.A. Confidential critical night, and was reminded of the phrase "on the QT", which Danny DeVito"s character claims several times.

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Off the record, ~ above the QT, and very hush-hush...

I to be wondering if anyone have the right to shed any type of light on the origin and meaning of this phrase.


Apparently Q.T. Is derived from quiet and originated in the 19th century, return its provenance is no certain.

From phrases.org.uk:

The slang ax "qt" is a shortened form of "quiet". There"s no definitive resource for the expression "on the q.t.", return it shows up to be of 19th century British origin - not, as is regularly supposed, American. The much longer phrase "on the quiet" is additionally not specifically old, but is first recorded somewhat prior to "on the qt", in Otago: Goldfields & Resources, 1862:


I discovered an previously (1874) illustration of Q.T. that reflects its beginning is most likely from the British next of the pond. This clip appears in an American publication of brief plays, yet this details farce, My Husband"s Secret by Walter Devereux Whitty, Esq., shows on that is title web page (scroll up 4 pages) the it played very first in London. Here"s the clip:


Edit: discovered an antedating of on the quiet, pointed out in
Robusto"s answer, from a horseracing story in New Sporting Magazine, 1847:



"Q.T." is an odd abbreviation because that "quiet." since it is of brothers origin, I would certainly think it would certainly derive indigenous schoolboys" abbreviations, often derived from Latin. The Latin taceo method "not come speak" and also has solemn definition sometimes, introduce to "passing over in silence." for this reason quae tacenda, or q.t., would describe "things around which one should not speak." Cf. Horace, Epodes, 5.49, wherein Horace speaks of Canidia and also quid dixit et quid tacuit, what she said and what she left unsaid.

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Edit: the in "My Husband"s Secret" Straps claims that "Q.T." is an abbreviation because that "quiet," as one "should have larned in ~ Hoxford," is a pretty good indication that Q.T. Because that "quiet" is a false etymology. At Oxford and elsewhere schoolboys" lessons in the standards would have actually occasional poisonous expressions. I have the right to imagine a teacher explicating a timeless text, and then comes to the venomous part, and also stating that "here there room quaedam tacenda ." These would certainly be frequent sufficient that schoolboys" note would refer to these together q.t. Then the term would be brought into plain conversation, e.g., referring to a master—"he drinks also much, and also there space q.t. ." then the term would certainly be offered for schoolboys" pranks: "I"ll join you ~ above this, yet only top top the strict q.t.," i.e., us won"t brag around this also to our fellows.