Put a sock in it is an idiom people use when they want others to be quiet.
The Origin of ‘Put a Sock In It’
The origin of this phrase is unclear. A couple questions one might ask regarding this expression is: What does the ‘it’ in the phrase refer to, and why is a sock of all things being put into ‘it’? Well, today the ‘it’ in this expression refers to a person’s mouth, though I’m unsure if that was the case when the phrase first originated.
The basic idea of this saying, as you might expect, is that if someone is being annoying (maybe by talking too much), a sock is stuffed into their mouth in order to shut them up. This isn’t something I will try for myself, but I imagine having a sock in one’s mouth would make it difficult to talk or make any loud noise for that matter.
Anyways, this phrase goes back to at least the early 20th century. It looks like the meaning back then was the same. For example, a part in the Western Mail newspaper, 1919, reads:
”But if you want to see a racecourse — a real full-sized dinkum top-hole racecourse I’m speaking of, mind you — come along with me to Tasmania,’ chimed in the small voice of a lad who was very fond of apples, ‘and I will show you—
‘Oh, dry up Tassie; put a sock in it.’ “
This means the phrase is over 100 years old.
- Will you put a sock in it already? I already told you that I’ll take the garbage out!
- Jake was doing school work at the library but he couldn’t focus because some people nearby were being noisy. He wanted to yell at them and say put a sock in it, but instead he politely asked them to keep it down.
- This is an important call, so pipe down so that I can hear it!
- When the movie is on, everyone zip it, or at least try not to talk over it.