The English We Speak – Put a sock in it!

It’s an impolite way of saying ‘stop talking’! It can also mean, keep the noise down.

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The English We Speak from BBC Learning English
Rob: Welcome to The English We Speak with me Rob – and today I’ve come round to Helen’s house because she said she needed some help..
Helen: Oh hi Rob. Thanks for coming round.
Rob: That’s OK, no problem. Now, how can I help?
Helen: I need you to fix my toaster please. You know me, I love my toast but since yesterday, every time I try to make some, black smoke keeps coming out of it.
Rob: Hmm, black smoke? That doesn’t sound good. OK, let’s have a look at it… Err, Helen?
Helen: Yes?
Rob: There’s a sock in it – that’s very dangerous – no wonder you’re getting black smoke when you try to make toast!
Helen: Rob, I put the sock in there.
Rob: You put the sock in there – why did you do that?
Helen: Well, my friend came round for breakfast yesterday, and I was telling her all about my fantastic holiday.. the great weather, the good food and the… handsome men..
Rob: So?
Helen: Well, I was making us both toast when she said ‘Helen, put a sock in it!’
Rob: Ah! I don’t think she actually meant put a sock in the toaster – when people say that, it means ‘be quiet’!
Helen: How rude! ‘Put a sock in it’ isn’t a very polite thing to say Rob!
Rob: It’s not. It’s an impolite way of saying ‘stop talking’! It can also mean, keep the noise down. Your friend must have been annoyed by your non-stop chatter if she said that! Let’s hear some more examples of this phrase in action..
Put a sock in it! We’re trying to do some work here!
Oh, put a sock in it! I’ve already said I’m going to do the washing-up later.
My Dad was telling me how I should work harder at school so I told him to ‘put a sock in it!’
Helen: So the phrase ‘to put a sock in it’ really means ‘be quiet’ or ‘shut up’. But Rob, I don’t talk that much, it’s just I like to tell people about my holidays, my cooking, my boyfriends..
Rob: Err, Helen… Helen: Yes?
Rob: Can you put a sock in it please?! In fact, use this… dirty sock from your toaster!
Helen: But where should I put it?
Rob: Well, figuratively speaking, the phrase means put a sock in your mouth to stop you talking – so try that!
Helen: Oh thanks. Actually, now my toaster is working, I’m going to have socks on toast!
Rob: Well, by the smell of this sock, it’s going to be cheese on toast.
Both: Bye!


BBC The English We Speak

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