Do you know what a pangram is? It’s a word or phrase using nearly all the letters in the English language. One of the only sayings using all of the letters is “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
That’s right, count them if you want. You’ll find all 26 letters present in the phrase. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.
The expression “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” doesn’t have any specific meaning. Unlike other idioms, this phrase doesn’t have any explanation, nor is it frequently used in conversation.
It serves as a lesson in English and computer typing. Phrases that use almost all the letters of the English alphabet are “pangrams.”
There are several pangrams in English, but the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and is one of the only pangrams using all 26 letters in the alphabet.
Other examples of pangrams that achieve this feat are the following.
“Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.” This saying contains 32-letters and all the letters in the alphabet.
“A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent.” This pangram contains all the letters in the alphabet and uses 54 letters in total.
The most common use of pangrams is for teaching students typing skills. They’ll use the pangrams to familiarize themselves with the keyboard layout. As a result of practicing the pangrams, they will eventually learn to type without looking at the keyboard.
“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
The origin of the expression “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” comes from The Mainland Mercury newspaper in June 1885. The saying is nearly 150-years old, and the newspaper ran a piece with the expression appearing as follows.
“A favorite copy set by writing teachers for their pupils is the following because it contains every letter of the alphabet: ‘A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’ “
This iteration of the phrase uses “A” instead of “The.” That means the original term misses three of the letters in the English language. The addition of “The” to the saying means that it uses every letter in English in the expression.
The earliest use of the modern pangram comes from “The Queenslander” newspaper in June 1887, where it appears as follows.
“Solutions of Nuts to Crack in Queenslander of 4th June:—I. Jubilee. II. The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.”
Phrases Similar to The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog
- Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs (A pangram utilizing 32 letters).
- A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent. (A pangram utilizing 54 letters).
Phrases Opposite to The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog
What is the Correct Saying?
- The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Ways People May Say The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog Incorrectly
Some people may use the saying as the shortened version of “the quick brown fox.” While this isn’t technically incorrect, it’s not the correct use of the pangram.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog
The phrase “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” actually doesn’t mean anything. It’s similar to other pangram phrases that use as many letters in the English language as possible. You can use this phrase when teaching people English. It’s a great way to show newcomers what’s possible with wordplay in the language.