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Sunday, April 15, 2012

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The phrase shown in metal moveable type, used in printing presses.
(Image is mirrored for readability.)

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is an English-language pangram, that is, a phrase that contains all of the letters of the alphabet. It has been used to test typewriters and computer keyboards, and in other applications involving all of the letters in the English alphabet. Owing to its shortness and coherence, it has become widely known and is often used in visual arts.


The earliest known appearance of the phrase is from The Michigan School Moderator, a journal that provided teachers with education-related news and suggestions for lessons. In an article titled "Interesting Notes" in the March 14, 1885 issue, the phrase is given as a suggestion for writing practice: "The following sentence makes a good copy for practice, as it contains every letter of the alphabet: 'A quick brown fox jumps over the very lazy dog.'"

As the use of typewriters grew in the late 19th century, the phrase began appearing in typing and stenography lesson books as a practice sentence. Early examples of publications which utilized the phrase include Illustrative Shorthand by Linda Bronson (1888), How to Become Expert in Typewriting: A Complete Instructor Designed Especially for the Remington Typewriter (1890), and Typewriting Instructor and Stenographer's Hand-book (1892). By the turn of the 20th century, the phrase had become widely known. In the January 10, 1903, issue of Pitman's Phonetic Journal, it is referred to as "the well known memorized typing line embracing all the letters of the alphabet". Robert Baden-Powell's book Scouting for Boys (1908) uses the phrase as a practice sentence for signalling.

During the 1950s, Western Union technicians tested Teletype printers with repeated lines of "A QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG 0123456789" accompanied by lower case, punctuation and bell ringing. Such testing was referred to as "foxing" by the technicians, who asked "Is it foxing?".


The standard version of the pangram has 35 letters, in which all 26 letters of the English alphabet occur at least once. The letters t, h, u, and r are used twice; e three times; and o four times.

A few variations of the pangram are sometimes encountered, including "A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" and "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog", both of which are two letters shorter, and "The quick fox jumps over the lazy brown dog". The shortest version, with 32 letters, is, "Quick brown dogs jump over the lazy fox."

The sentence is often mistakenly rendered as "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog," which does not include an s. However, this can be corrected by typing: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs".

Usage in typography

This pangram is commonly used to display font samples and for testing computer keyboards.

Examples of how the phrase is used in font display

The phrase used to display fonts in Kfontview

The phrase used to compare common word-processor typefaces in
Usage in computing

Quick Brown Fox was the name of a vendor and word processing software package that ran on the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore 64.

Older versions of Microsoft Word feature the text if you type in =rand(200,99) and then hit the enter button. In Microsoft Word 2007 this message has been replaced with straightforward instructions. However, you can still use =rand.old() as described in kb212251.

Usage in popular culture

Owing to the widespread knowledge of the phrase and its comical nature, many works of art have been developed that pictorially depict the action of a fox jumping over a dog or a related variation of it. Dan Santat, creator of Disney Channel's The Replacements and children’s book author, has created a cartoon of the pangram on his blog in which he mistakenly replaced "jumps" with "jumped", thereby removing the letter "s" from his phrase. Other instances of phrase-related artworks include a typography workshop flyer, a widespread clipart image, and a music CD cover. A video of a fox actually jumping over a dog can be found online. The May 9, 2008, issue of John Allen's web-based comic Nest Heads features a child saying the phrase to a sleeping dog, in attempts to arouse him to play. In the Disney movie The Fox and the Hound, there is a scene near the end where the fox is running fast and jumps over the lying-down hound, creating an in-context, non-contrived instance of the phrase. The phrase plays a key role in the plot of the 2001 Mark Dunn novel Ella Minnow Pea, which is set in a fictitious island nation supposed to be the home of the phrase's originator.

Close variations are often created when the phrase is used in the arts. In the card game Magic: The Gathering, a "joke card" from the Unhinged series was created with a game-related variation of the phrase, "The quick onyx goblin jumps over the lazy dwarf." In the Peanuts comic strip for May 27, 1974, Snoopy, having been entrusted by Lucy to ghostwrite her a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven, only writes on his typewriter “The quick brown fox jumps over the unfortunate dog” because that phrase was all he ever learned to type.

The paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould used it as the final line in his essay "The Panda's Thumb of Technology."

The Electric Company used the phrase in a cartoon in which it appears in typewritten font and is read by a female voice. A small brown fox jumps over a sleeping dog repeatedly until the dog starts becoming annoyed and stops him, then laughs heartily as the fox walks away.

In the 1981 movie Stripes starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and John Candy, the misfit platoon on the verge of being forced to repeat basic training wows the General at their graduation ceremony with an impromptu "drill". One of the phrases they use during the drill routine is "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog...sir!"

The phrase was used erroneously, with the word "jumped" instead of "jumps" and hence missing the letter s, in a commercial for ESPN's SportsCenter in 2009. Jay Harris types the phrase while using the batting weights of Texas Rangers' slugger Josh Hamilton. The weights aid him to type the phrase faster with practice.


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