This is a pangram in the English language and it’s probably the most recognized one at that. What is a pangram, you ask? It is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. There are others just like it, but their lengths (the number of letters in them) vary. Here are three examples:
- Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (32 letters)
- The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (35 letters)
- A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent. (54 letters)
Origin Of ‘The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog’
If you have ever looked for new fonts to download, then ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ is a sentence that you have probably seen before. This pangram is often seen next to fonts that are on display. The font’s style is applied to the pangram, giving an example of what the font would look like in a sentence and also for the individual letters. This is one of the common uses of pangrams these days; to display different styles of fonts.
Teachers might also use pangrams for their students to help them practice writing. I can understand why, as writing a pangram would require the students to write down each letter of the alphabet at least once.
Anyway, how old is this phrase? The earliest known instance of it appearing in print is from the year 1885; it appears in several newspapers during this time. For example, in The Mainland Mercury, June 1885, there’s a part that reads:
“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.’ “
As you might have noticed in the above quote, the phrase starts with an ‘A’ instead of ‘The’. Today, it seems the dominant form of this pangram is the one that starts with ‘The’. The earliest example I could find of this form is from a newspaper called The Queenslander, June 1887:
“Solutions of Nuts to Crack in Queenslander of 4th June:—I. Jubilee. II. The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.”
So this means the phrase is at least over 130 years old.