Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Q.T. n.

[abbr. quiet]

In phrases

do the Q.T. (v.)

to lead a quiet life.

[UK] ‘’Arry on His Critics’ in Punch 17 Dec. 280/1: Can’t set in a corner canoodling, and do the Q.T. day and night.
on the Q.T.

1. surreptitiously, on the quiet; also ext. as on the strict Q.T.

[UK]Talkative Man from Poplar [broadside ballad] Whatever I tell you is on the Q.T [F&H].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Jul. 18/1: Oh, my! what a pious world it is, / And how very good they all seem to be – / But what a ’duffing’ lot you’d find / If you would only raise the blind, / And see ’em on the strict Q.T.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ in Punch 15 Aug. 76: Want all things to themselves, these old jossers, and all on the strictest Q.T.
[UK]H.J. Sayers [perf. Lottie Collins] Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay [lyrics] A smart and stylish girl you see / The belle of good society / Fond of fun as fond could be / When it's on the strict QT.
[US]Eve. Dispatch (Provo, UT) 20 July 1/3: We got this on the dead Q-T —and will ask you readers, please don’t give it away.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Golden Graveyard’ in Roderick (1972) 345: We’ll work this thing on the strict Q.T.
[UK]J. Conrad Lord Jim 34: ‘The ship was full of them, you know, and we had to clear out on the strict Q.T.’ he whispered with extreme rapidity.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 3 Feb. 2/2: [E]ndeavoring to hide from old man Brown the fact that his son Dick [...] ; is married to Letty Leonard [...] on the strict q.t.
[US]C. M’Govern Sarjint Larry an’ Frinds 42: So as de ‘goo-goos’ would not get next of me schame it was all done on de Q.T.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 21 Sept. 10/3: ‘I do know a little Bethel / Where we can have of a beer, / On the strict Q.T’.
[US]Van Loan ‘One-Thirty-Three – Ringside’ in Taking the Count 72: Avery wants to see me tonight – on the strict Q.T.
[US]E. Dahlberg Bottom Dogs 145: Bill [...] looked worried, and got over to Mawx on the q.t. to put in twenty for him too.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 175: Remember this is all on the strict Q.T.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 22 July 11/1: [They were] hitched about four months ago on the q-t .
[US]Merle Travis ‘Divorce Me C.O.D.’ [lyrics] You thought your little romance was on the strict Q.T. / So if you want your freedom P.D.Q., / Divorce me C.O.D.
[US]E. Pound (trans.) Sophocles’ Women of Trachis 17: Her pro-eh-Genitor ’Rytus wouldn’t let him put her to bed on the Q.T.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 72: I was screwing four or five guys on the QT.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 255: He can even do it on the QT.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 180: St. John Thomas, the museum director and (on the QT) art dealer.
[UK]I. Welsh Trainspotting 31: I reckon that he’s been daein a bit ay mainlining or shit-stabbing on the Q.T.
[US]T. Fontana ‘Cruel and Unusual Punishments’ Oz ser. 3 ep. 6 [TV script] ‘Is Glynn investigating?’ ‘Yeah, on the Q.T. He doesn’t seem that anxious to find out’.
[Ire]P. Howard Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress 191: He wants a word on the QT.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 326: On the q.t., Gio and I offered our secret legion of helpful ears and eyes twenty dollar bills from our own pockets.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Zero at the Bone [ebook] If only his father had known what Henning knew now [...] schooled on the QT by some of the stewards, each of them cynical when talking about the game.
[UK]I. Welsh Decent Ride 201: Anything ye hear about Kelvin, let me ken, on the QT like.

2. living quietly, soberly.

[Aus]E.S. Sorenson Bushman in Life in the Aus. Backblocks 14: Every year resolutions are made in out-camps and huts to keep on the ‘strict Q.T.’ for twelve months, then go down and see the Melbourne Cup, the Mecca of the bushman. The ‘resolutions’ are often well carried out till [...] the wayside pubs start a-callin’.