Put a sock in it


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Put a sock in it'?

A request to be quiet.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Put a sock in it'?

This is a colloquial British phrase that originated in the early 20th century. It is generally used when someone is being so noisy as to annoy others. The imagery behind the phrases is that putting a sock in whatever was causing the noise would quieten it down. What that thing was isn’t known. There are suggestions that this may have been the horn of an early gramophone or, more straightforwardly, the raucous person’s mouth.

The earliest example of it in print that I can find is a definition of the term in the weekly literary review The Athenaeum 1919:

“The expression ‘Put a sock in it’, meaning ‘Leave off talking, singing or shouting’.”

The fact that an erudite publication saw fit to define the term suggests it was recently coined in 1919.

Trend of put a sock in it in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.