PDQ – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did your boss ask you to bring them a report, ‘PDQ?’ This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The acronym ‘PDQ’ stands for ‘Pretty Damn Quick. It’s common for people to assume the original version of the saying is ‘Pretty Darn Quick,’ but that’s not the case. This acronym is one of a few examples of the vulgar use of the abbreviation being the original version.

If someone asks you for something ‘PDQ,’ they want you to drop what you’re doing and complete the request as fast as possible.

Example Usage

“Jeffreys, I need you to get the file from Simmons PDQ. I have the boss on his way over, and I need it to complete the report, or we’re all getting fired today.”

“Honey, please bring me a plaster PDQ. I cut myself, and I’m bleeding everywhere. I must stop it before I pass out from blood loss over here.”

“Let’s get the PDQ. If we wait too long, we’ll have to stand outside the venue in the cold for hours. Let’s get moving and beat the crowd.”

“There’s no reason to wait. We need to get there PDQ if we want good seats. I’m not standing in the back again like last time. That was a waste of a concert ticket.”

“That new BMW is PDQ. I saw it race a Tesla the other day, and it was keeping pace for the first quarter mile.”

“This new PC is PDQ. It loads so fast, and I don’t have to wait for it to execute actions. It’s almost instantaneous. It’s the best thing I ever did for my gaming career.”

“Let’s get there, PDQ, please. I don’t have time to wait around. Put your foot on the gas, and let’s move.”

“Can we get out heads together on this? We need a solution PDQ, or we’re going to get into trouble with the board. Let’s all brainstorm a solution and make it happen, please.”

“Get to the chopper PDQ. He will catch up with us if we wait any longer, and we’ll lose the race.”


Unlike many acronyms used in conversation today, ‘PDQ’ doesn’t originate from text culture. The first use of the expression appears in the work of Benjamin E. Woolf. Woolf coined the phrase in his play, ‘The Mighty Dollar,’ first performed at New York’s Park Theatre in 1875.

The character ‘Judge Bardwell Stote’ used the acronym in the play, which appears as follows.

“That’s right. You’d better step PDQ pretty damn quick.”

While the play gets credit for popularizing the expression, it was well in use before 1875. The earliest example of PDQ in writing comes from the Memoirs of Charles Mathews, published in 1839, where it appears as follows.

“If he showed me any of it, I’d make him clear out pretty damned quick.”

Phrases Similar to PDQ

  • As quick as you can.
  • As fast as possible.

Phrases Opposite to PDQ

  • Slow as a snail.
  • Turtle pace.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • PDQ.
  • Pretty Darn Quick.
  • Pretty Damn Quick.

Ways People May Say PDQ Incorrectly

The acronym ‘PDQ’ stands for ‘Pretty Darn Quick’ or ‘Pretty Damn Quick.’ It is not a computer file like a ‘PDF.’ Using the acronym to describe anything other than quick actions is incorrect.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase PDQ

You can use the acronym ‘PDQ’ in social and professional conversations. It’s one of the few acronyms that are suitable for use in verbal exchanges and text-based communications. You could type an email to a colleague telling them you need a copy of the report ‘PDQ’ because the boss is breathing down your neck.

Or you could verbally tell them to get the report ‘PDQ’ to emphasize the speed of their actions. Or you could tell your friend to get your tickets for the show on Friday’ PDQ’ before they sell out. The expression sits in situations where you want to emphasize speed and efficiency to get a fast result.

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