Loose lips sink ships is an American English idiom meaning "beware of unguarded talk".
American World War II poster by Seymour R. Goff, also known as Ess-ar-gee
The phrase originated on propaganda posters during World War II. The phrase was used in posters made by the Seagram Distillers Corporation as part of that corporation's contribution to the National Victory Effort and was used on posters by the United States Office of War Information.
The most famous poster that helped popularize the phrase (pictured at right) was created for the Seagram Distillers Corporation by the designer Seymour R. Goff (also known by the pseudonym "Ess-ar-gee" or Essargee). This type of poster was part of a general campaign of American propaganda during World War II to advise servicemen and other citizens to avoid careless talk concerning secure information that might be of use to the enemy. The British equivalent used variations on the phrase "Keep mum," while in neutral Sweden the State Information Board promoted the wordplay "en svensk tiger."
The gist of this particular slogan was that one should avoid speaking of ship movements, as this talk (if directed at or overheard by covert enemy agents) might allow the enemy to intercept and destroy the ships.
There were many similar such slogans, but "Loose lips sink ships" remained in the American idiom for the remainder of the century and into the next, usually as an admonition to avoid careless talk in general.
Some examples of use the phrase outside the World War II propaganda context are:
- Loose Lips Sink Ships is the name of a pop band, a pop album (by Des Ark), and pop songs by various artists, including Camper Van Beethoven, A Change of Pace, Hit the Lights, and others.
- Loose Lips Sink Ships is a musical play produced by the American Folklore Theatre.
- "Loose Lips Sink Ships" is the title an episode of the American television program Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, and a variation, "Loose Lips Sink Relationships", is the title of an episode of the American television program Will & Grace.
- "Loose Lips" is the title of a song written by Kimya Dawson heard in the soundtrack of the feature film, Juno.
- "Loose lips sink ships" occurs multiple times throughout the song "Cherry Tree" by The National.
- "Loose lips sink ships" is also the title of a paper exploring labiaplasty by Simone Weil Davis of the University of Toronto.
- Phrase occurs in "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" video game at the end of the letter (about evacuation of Federal Emergency Management Agency station MICH.355.sos.7 at Highland Park (Detroit) sent by Joseph Manderley.
- "Loose lips sink ships" is the lyric at the beginning of the song Let's Get It Up by AC/DC.
- "Loose lips sink ships" is repeated throughout the song "XO", a song on Fall Out Boy's third studio album, From Under the Cork Tree.
- "Loose lips sink ships" is often seen printed on one of the many shirts of Billy Talent's lead singer, Ben Kowalewicz
- ^ a b "Loose lips sink ships". The Phrase Finder. http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/237250.html. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ^ Seymour L. Goff (Ess-ar-gee or Essargee) (1941-5). "Loose Lips Sink Ships (1942-1945)". http://digital.hagley.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15017coll3/id/50/rec/3. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- ^ "Hadley Digital Archive "Loose Lips Might Sink Ships"". http://digital.hagley.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15017coll3/id/50/rec/3. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- ^ "Loose Lips Sink Ships". Eyewitness to History. 1997. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/lslips.htm. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ^ ""Keep mum – she's not so dumb" - Charcoal, gouache, ink & pastel on board". British National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/theartofwar/prop/home_front/INF3_0229.htm. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ^ a b "Idiom: Loose lips sink ships". Using English. http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/loose+lips+sink+ships.html. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ^ "Loose lips sink ships". The Free Dictionary. http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Loose+lips+sink+ships. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ^ "LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS". progarchives.com. http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=3708. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ^ "Albums containing a track with the title:Loose Lips Sink Ships". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/search/track/Loose+Lips+Sink+Ships/order:default-asc. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ^ Template:Cherry Tree Lyrics
- ^ Davis, Simone. "Loose lips sink ships", Feminist Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring, 2002), pp. 7–35.