Submitted by Julie Kay (Bronnitsy - Russia)
Julie, PUT UP OR SHUT UP is an imperative statement which says act on what you are saying, defend yourself, back up your stated position with action or stop talking about it (do instead of talk). “You have talked about repairing my fence for months, but so far have done nothing – now put up or shut up.” This impolite way of telling people to take action, defend themselves, or be silent is chiefly a U.S. colloquialism first recorded in 1878. It is believed to come from gambling, in which a card player is told to ante up (put up their money) or withdraw. It is a close relative of the newer (1930s) originally North American expression ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ – produce, bet, or pay out money to support one's statements or opinions. An alternate theory is that ‘put up or shut up’ was a command to put up one’s fists and fight or stop talking.
(Oxford English Dictionary)<1878: “‘P.U. or S.U.’ means PUT UP OR SHUT UP, doesn't it?”— ‘Sazerac Lying Club: A Nevada Book’ by F. H. Hart, page 167>
<1889: “This was a plain case of ‘PUT UP, OR SHUT UP.’.”—‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ by Mark Twain, xl, page 512>
<1952: “The old alternatives will be revived: PUT UP OR SHUT UP—get out or get on to the Yalu and beyond.” [reference is to the Yalu River during the Korean War]— ‘Manchester Guardian Weekly.’ 1 May page 3/4>
Ken G - May 21, 2004
Submitted by Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)