keep quiet: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘keep quiet’ mean?

The idiom "keep quiet" means to remain silent or not speak, especially when it is important to do so in order to maintain secrecy, avoid trouble, or not reveal information.

Idiom Explorer

Deciphering Silence

Keep quiet is an idiomatic phrase that means to remain silent or refrain from speaking. It can be used in various situations where it is necessary to maintain silence or conceal information. The idiom "keep quiet" is commonly used in both formal and informal contexts.

The origin of the idiom "keep quiet" can be traced back to the Middle English period. The word "keep" comes from the Old English word "cēpan," which means "to care for" or "to guard." The word "quiet" has roots in the Latin word "quietus," meaning "calm" or "tranquil." These two words merged to form the phrase "keep quiet" during the sixteenth century.

The idiom "keep quiet" has a straightforward interpretation, instructing a person to maintain silence. However, it can also imply the need for discretion, secrecy, or restraint. It may suggest the avoidance of unnecessary conversations or the suppression of one's opinions or emotions. Additionally, it can be used metaphorically to emphasize the preservation of peace or harmony in a particular situation.

Stay mum and keep your mouth shut!

The idiom "keep quiet" can be found in various expressions and proverbs. For example, "keep quiet as a mouse" emphasizes the importance of remaining silent and not making any noise. Similarly, "keep quiet about something" highlights the need to keep information confidential or refrain from revealing a secret. These idiomatic expressions further emphasize the significance of silence and discretion in communication.

"keep one's mouth shut" is a related idiom to "keep quiet." It means the same thing - to remain silent or refrain from speaking. "Keep one's mouth shut" is a more informal way of expressing the need for silence. It can be used interchangeably with "keep quiet" in most situations.

Another related idiom is "keep mum." This idiom also means to remain silent or refrain from speaking. "Keep mum" is a more informal and colloquial expression, often used in casual conversations. It can be used as an alternative to "keep quiet" or "keep one's mouth shut" in certain contexts.

"keep quiet" is an idiomatic phrase that instructs a person to maintain silence. It has its roots in Middle English and has evolved to encompass various meanings related to silence, discretion, and tranquility. Whether used literally or metaphorically, "keep quiet" emphasizes the power and impact of silence in communication and human interaction. The related idioms "keep one's mouth shut" and "keep mum" convey the same idea of remaining silent, offering slightly different levels of formality and colloquialism.

Example usage

1. She knew about the surprise party, but she kept quiet and didn't say anything to the birthday girl.

2. The children were misbehaving in the library, so the librarian asked them to keep quiet.

3. I don't want anyone to know about our plans, so please keep quiet about them.

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