To Close Shop: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 28, 2023

The expression "to close shop" commonly refers to ceasing business operations or discontinuing an activity. It can literally mean shutting down a physical storefront or business, or more figuratively, it can indicate the conclusion of a project, activity, or effort. Essentially, the phrase conveys the notion of bringing something ongoing to a definitive end.

In short:

  • It refers to ending a business operation or activity.
  • It can be used both literally and figuratively.

What Does "To Close Shop" Mean?

When someone says they are going "to close shop," it means they are ending a specific activity or business. This could imply a store closing for the day or a business shutting down permanently. More broadly, it can also mean halting an ongoing project or effort. For example, a team might "close shop" on a project without achieving the expected outcomes.

Let's explore its main meanings and how it's used:

  • It often refers to a business or store ceasing its operations, either temporarily or permanently.
  • The phrase can describe ending any ongoing effort or activity, not just business-related ones.
  • It captures the idea of a conclusion, of bringing something to an end.
  • While it's commonly associated with business, it can be applied in various contexts, such as projects, events, or relationships.
  • Similar phrases include "shut down," "wrap up," and "call it a day."

Where Does "To Close Shop" Come From?

The term "shop" comes from the Old English "sceoppa," meaning a booth or shed for trade or work. The meaning has since evolved to refer to a building or room where goods were made and sold. The action of closing, derived from the Old English "clȳsan," meant to shut, stop, or conclude. When combined, "to close shop" literally referred to shutting down a place of business.

10 Examples of "To Close Shop" in Sentences

To help you understand when to use this phrase, let's look at some examples from various situations:

  • Do me a favor and remind me to close shop by 6 p.m.
  • Many businesses had to close shop temporarily during the pandemic lockdowns.
  • From my point of view, it’s better to close shop than to keep losing money.
  • After the festival, vendors began to close shop and pack up their goods.
  • The cafe had to close shop for a few days for renovations.
  • With the rise of online shopping, many brick-and-mortar stores are finding it hard to compete and are choosing to close shop.
  • He had to close shop when he couldn't find enough skilled workers for his workshop.
  • Welcome back! While you were away, we had to close shop for a brief period.
  • After we close shop tonight, I hope to see you again at the team dinner.
  • What's going on? I heard they decided to close shop permanently.

Examples of "To Close Shop" in Pop Culture

This phrase, while more literal, has also appeared in pop culture, especially in stories about businesses facing challenges.

Here are a few examples:

  • In the movie "You've Got Mail," the character played by Meg Ryan has to close shop due to competition from a large bookstore chain.
  • On the TV show "Bar Rescue," many bars are on the verge of having to close shop before getting a makeover.
  • The documentary "The Last Blockbuster" highlights the challenges faced by the last Blockbuster store as it fights to not close shop in the digital age.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "To Close Shop"

Here are some alternative phrases that convey a similar idea:

  • Shut down
  • Wrap up
  • End the business
  • Stop operating
  • Close down
  • Shut up shop
  • Wind up
  • Close for good
  • Go out of business
  • Call it quits

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "To Close Shop":

  • What does "to close shop" mean?

"To close shop" means to stop doing business or to shut down an operation, either temporarily or permanently. It's often used when a business decides to cease its operations.

  • How can I use "to close shop" in a sentence?

You can use it to describe the action of ending a business or operation. For example: "Due to financial difficulties, they had to close shop." or "The cafe decided to close shop early because of the storm.

  • Is it a negative phrase?

It can be perceived as negative, especially if it refers to a business shutting down permanently. However, in some contexts, like closing temporarily for renovations, it might not have a negative connotation.

  • Does it only refer to businesses?

While commonly associated with businesses, "to close shop" can also be used figuratively to describe ending any activity or operation, not just commercial ones.

  • Can it be used in written form?

Yes, "to close shop" can be used in written form, such as in news articles, stories, or business communications.

  • How is it different from "to shut down"?

Both phrases can mean to cease operations, but "to shut down" can also refer to turning off machinery or equipment. "To close shop" is more specific to ending business operations.

  • What's its origin?

The phrase likely comes from the literal action of closing a shop's doors at the end of a business day. Over time, it took on a broader meaning of ceasing operations.

  • Is it used globally?

Yes, the concept of "closing shop" is understood in many cultures and languages, though the exact phrasing might differ.

  • Can it be used in casual conversations?

Yes, "to close shop" can be used in casual conversations, especially when discussing the end of an activity or operation.

  • Does it imply a permanent end?

Not always. "To close shop" can refer to a temporary closure, like for a holiday or renovation, or a permanent closure, like when a business goes bankrupt.

Final Thoughts About "To Close Shop"

The idiom "to close shop" is a straightforward way to express the end of an operation or activity. It's widely understood and can be used in various contexts, from business to casual conversations.

Here's a quick recap:

  • It describes the action of ending an operation or activity.
  • It can be used for both temporary and permanent closures.
  • The phrase is versatile and understood in many cultures and languages.
  • While often associated with businesses, it can also be used in other contexts.

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