Loose Lips Sink Ships: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 18, 2023

Have you ever heard the phrase "loose lips sink ships"? This idiom is a reminder that sharing information carelessly can lead to unintended consequences. It's a warning to be cautious about what you say, especially when it comes to sensitive or confidential information.

In short:

"Loose lips sink ships" means that speaking without thinking or sharing secrets can lead to disaster.

What Does “Loose Lips Sink Ships” Mean?

This idiom is often used to remind you of the dangers of speaking without thinking or sharing information that should remain confidential. It emphasizes the importance of discretion and caution in communication.

Let's break it down:

  • Loose lips: Refers to people who talk carelessly or without thinking.
  • Sink ships: Suggests that the consequences of such talk can be disastrous, just as a ship sinking is a major catastrophe.

When someone says this phrase, they're essentially warning you to be careful about what you say because words have power and can lead to unintended outcomes.

Where Does “Loose Lips Sink Ships” Come From?

The phrase was created by the War Advertising Council and was used on posters by the United States Office of War Information. The posters were part of a broader campaign to advise servicemen and other citizens to avoid careless talk that might undermine the war effort. There were many similar slogans during this time, but "Loose lips sink ships" remained in the American idiom for the remainder of the century and into the next, serving as a general admonition against careless talk.

Historical Example

"As comedian Flip Wilson always says "Loose lips sink ships." A recent example: the U.S. Navy's credibility dropped quite a bit when someone let it out that in the interest of "saving time," the Navy paid out over $100 apiece for parts that could have been purchased from the federal supply svstem for less than a nickle."

- Jet Magazine, 8 Aug 1983

10 Examples of “Loose Lips Sink Ships” in Sentences

Here are some examples to help illustrate how this idiom can be used in various contexts:

  • After the company's secret project was leaked to the media, the CEO reminded everyone that loose lips sink ships.
  • I wish that people would understand that loose lips sink ships and be more careful with their words.
  • She's always pining after gossip, but remember, loose lips sink ships.
  • It's essential to maintain confidentiality in this job; as they say, loose lips sink ships.
  • He had a habit of sharing secrets, but he quickly learned that loose lips sink ships.
  • During the meeting, she let slip some confidential information, proving once again that loose lips sink ships.
  • It might remind you of a time when someone's careless words caused a lot of trouble, proving that loose lips sink ships.
  • Before you share that piece of information, remember that loose lips sink ships.
  • He was cautioned against discussing the legal case outside of the office because loose lips sink ships.
  • She wished she hadn't shared the news so soon, realizing that loose lips sink ships.

These examples highlight the versatility of the idiom and how it can be applied in various situations.

Examples of “Loose Lips Sink Ships” in Pop Culture

This idiom has also made its mark in popular culture:

  • "Loose Lips (Sink Ships)" is a song by the artist Bp|Ry, featuring C. The song touches upon the dangers of careless talk and its potential consequences.
  • The phrase "loose lips sink ships" appears in a song by the band "Glory of This."
  • Loose Lips Sink Ships was a music and photography magazine founded in the early 2000s by writer Stevie Chick and photographer Steve Gullick.
  • Loose Lips Sink Ships is a song by A Change of Pace.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “Loose Lips Sink Ships"

Some other expressions and idioms convey a similar message:

  • A still tongue keeps a wise head.
  • Discretion is the better part of valor.
  • Think before you speak.
  • Mind your words.

Each of these idioms emphasizes the importance of being cautious with one's words and actions.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “Loose Lips Sink Ships”:

  • What is the meaning of "loose lips sink ships"?

It means that speaking carelessly or sharing secrets can lead to disaster or unintended consequences.

  • Where did the phrase originate?

It originated during World War II as a slogan to remind people to avoid discussing sensitive information.

  • Is it used in popular culture?

Yes, it has been referenced in songs, movies, and TV shows.

  • Is "loose lips sink ships" still relevant today?

Yes, in today's digital age, the idiom is a reminder to be cautious about sharing information, especially online.

  • Can this idiom be used in a business context?

Yes, it can be used to emphasize the importance of confidentiality and discretion in business dealings.

  • Are there other idioms similar to this one?

Yes, idioms like "A still tongue keeps a wise head" convey a similar message.

  • How can I use this idiom in a sentence?

You can say, "After the company's secret project was leaked, the CEO reminded everyone that loose lips sink ships."

  • Is it appropriate to use this idiom in formal writing?

It depends on the context, but generally, it is more commonly used in informal speech and writing.

  • What is a synonym for this idiom?

A synonym could be "Discretion is the better part of valor."

  • Why is it important to understand idioms like this one?

Understanding idioms enhances communication skills and cultural literacy.

Final Thoughts About “Loose Lips Sink Ships”

Understanding the idiom "loose lips sink ships" is crucial in various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional settings.

  • It serves as a reminder of the power of words and the importance of discretion.
  • It highlights the potential consequences of sharing sensitive information.
  • It encourages thoughtful and cautious communication.

In summary, this idiom continues to be relevant and useful in reminding individuals to think before they speak and to be mindful of the information they share.

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