Snitches Get Stitches: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 15, 2023

"Snitches get stitches" is a common idiom that discourages individuals from reporting wrongdoings or illegal activities. The phrase suggests that people who tattle or snitch may face retaliation or harm as a result.

In short:

"Snitches get stitches" is a phrase used to warn against reporting illegal or wrong activities, implying potential harm for the informer.

What Does "Snitches Get Stitches" Mean?

The idiom carries a threatening connotation, suggesting that people who report or "snitch" on others' wrongdoing may face violent retaliation. It's often used within contexts where loyalty is highly valued, and betraying that loyalty by reporting someone's actions could lead to physical harm or social ostracism.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning include:

  • Used to discourage reporting of wrongdoing
  • Implies potential harm or retaliation towards the informer

The phrase, although negatively connoted, reflects the reality of specific social groups that enforce a code of silence to shield their members from external authorities.

Where Does "Snitches Get Stitches" Come From?

The exact origin of "snitches get stitches" is not clear, but it's believed to have originated in urban communities in the United States, where gang activity was prevalent. The phrase reflects a code of silence or "omerta," where community members are discouraged from reporting illegal activities to law enforcement.

Historical Example

"Relationships with the correctional staff, however, do not offer protection, and one maxim learned by each new inmate is "Snitches get stitches," so few try to survive by informing to the staff."

- The Search For Structure A Report on American Youth Today, Francis Ianni, 1989

10 Examples of "Snitches Get Stitches" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • "Kidding aside," he warned the new gang member, "Snitches get stitches."
  • "Snitches get stitches" is a common phrase in crime-ridden neighborhoods.
  • She refused to report the theft, fearing the old rule that snitches get stitches.
  • Sometimes the truth can rile up the wrong people. As they say, "Snitches get stitches."
  • I can’t believe you bailed on me last night. You know what they say, snitches get stitches.
  • He lived by the code that snitches get stitches and kept the secret to himself.
  • She was afraid to break the silence, knowing well that snitches get stitches.
  • I can't tell you who stole the repoed car - snitches get stitches.
  • He was reluctant to testify, haunted by the phrase "snitches get stitches."
  • The gnarly graffiti on the wall displayed an ominous warning: "Snitches get stitches."

Examples of "Snitches Get Stitches" in Pop Culture

The phrase frequently appears in movies, music, and literature, often within crime or gang-related contexts.

Some examples include:

  • "Snitches Get Stitches" is the title of an episode of the podcast series My Worst Date (2019)
  • "I get it. I've been down. Snitches get stitches" is a line from the crime TV series The Mentalist (2008-2015)
  • The song "Snitches Get Stitches" by The Amity Affliction on their 2008 album "Severed Ties" uses the phrase in its title and lyrics.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Snitches Get Stitches"

There aren't many alternative expressions that convey the same sentiment as "snitches get stitches" due to its specific, threatening connotation. However, there are other phrases related to keeping silent.

Some of these include:

  • Loose lips sink ships
  • Silence is golden
  • Rats invite retaliation
  • Informers face consequences

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Snitches Get Stitches"

  • Is "snitches get stitches" a threatening phrase?

"Snitches get stitches" is generally seen as a threatening phrase. It implies that people who report others' wrongdoing may face violent retaliation.

  • Is the phrase used only in crime-related contexts?

While "snitches get stitches" is often used in crime-related or gang-related contexts, it can also be used more broadly to discourage individuals from reporting wrongdoings in different settings.

  • Is it appropriate to use the phrase in everyday conversation?

Given its threatening connotation, "snitches get stitches" is generally not considered appropriate for everyday conversation, especially in professional or formal contexts.

  • Is "snitches get stitches" a form of victim-blaming?

The phrase "snitches get stitches" can be seen as a form of victim-blaming as it discourages individuals from reporting wrongdoing and implies they may face harm for doing so.

  • Does the phrase discourage justice?

"Snitches get stitches" can discourage individuals from reporting illegal activities or seeking justice, thus it can indirectly hamper the process of justice.

  • Is the phrase common in all English-speaking countries?

The phrase "snitches get stitches" is primarily used in the United States but may be understood in other English-speaking countries due to its use in popular culture.

  • Does the phrase imply physical violence?

Yes, the phrase "snitches get stitches" implies potential physical violence or harm to those who snitch or report wrongdoing.

  • Is it okay to use it metaphorically?

While "snitches get stitches" typically implies physical harm, it could potentially be used metaphorically to suggest social ostracism or consequences other than physical harm.

  • Is the phrase legal to use?

While using the phrase "snitches get stitches" is not illegal in itself, it could potentially be used in a way that constitutes a threat, which could be illegal depending on the context and jurisdiction.

  • Is it okay to use the phrase in literature or creative writing?

"Snitches get stitches" can be used in literature or creative writing, particularly in works that deal with crime, street culture, or similar themes. However, due to its violent implication, writers should use it with caution and sensitivity.

Final Thoughts About "Snitches Get Stitches"

To sum up, the phrase "snitches get stitches" is a controversial idiom that promotes a culture of silence by threatening harm to those who report wrongdoing.  People often associate "snitches get stitches" with crime-related or street contexts.

Key aspects of "snitches get stitches":

  • Discourages reporting of wrongdoing
  • Implies potential violence
  • Common in crime-related or street contexts

Use the phrase with caution because it has a threatening connotation and the potential to discourage justice. It's essential to promote a culture of transparency and justice rather than one that threatens harm for reporting wrongdoing.

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