Put Your Foot In Your Mouth

Also: (to have) Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Meaning of Idiom ‘To Put Your Foot in Your Mouth

To put your foot in your mouth (or put one’s foot in one’s mouth) means to say something embarrassing, tactless, unintentionally insulting, or socially awkward; to commit a social blunder by saying something foolish. 1Brenner, Gail Abel. Webster’s New World American Idioms Handbook. Wiley, 2003.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,3Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.

When someone puts his foot in his mouth often, he may be said to have foot-in-mouth disease.


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Examples Of Use

“You need to learn to think before you speak so you don’t put your foot in your mouth.”

“I really put my foot in my mouth today. I asked Vicky if she was pregnant. She wasn’t!”

“John has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. He doesn’t mean anything by it, bless his heart.”

“Fred doesn’t have a mean bone in his body but he really put his foot in his mouth when he told Janice she should start exercising.”

Put your foot in your mouth idiom meaning

Origin

Put one’s foot in one’s mouth, as an idiom dates from at least the 1850’s. 4Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012. Its precise origin is unknown.

The variant foot-in-mouth disease is newer, and dates to at least the mid-1900s. It is a play on the foot-and-mouth (or hoof-and-mouth) viral disease that afflicts cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals causing blisters on the feet and inside the mouth. 5Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. This rarely infects humans, although foot-IN-mouth disease is quite common!

A viral infection called hand, foot and mouth disease can also affect young children but is caused by an unrelated virus.


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Sources   [ + ]

1. Brenner, Gail Abel. Webster’s New World American Idioms Handbook. Wiley, 2003.
2, 5. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.
4. Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.