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Speak now or forever hold your peace

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  • Speak now or forever hold your peace is a phrase that has been taken from a certain ceremony and is now used in everyday language. We will examine the meaning of the phrase speak now or forever hold your peace, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    Speak now or forever hold your peace is an admonition to immediately share information that may not be known by others, or else keep this information to yourself for eternity. This phrase is derived from the Christian marriage ceremony. During medieval times, communication between distant communities was at best, spotty. To combat bigamy, or the practice of marrying multiple people in secret, the practice of marriage banns was enacted. When a marriage was impending it was announced for three consecutive Sundays. This would give all parishioners a chance to raise an objection to the marriage, usually on the grounds that the groom in question was already married to someone else. During the actual marriage ceremony, as a last chance to hear anyone’s information regarding the illegitimacy of the marriage about to take place, the priest was required to state that if anyone knew why the couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace. This phrase is often, but not always, included in today’s marriage ceremonies as a formality. The term speak now or forever hold your peace is now sometimes used in other situations as a warning that is one’s last chance to object to something or voice an opinion.

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    Examples

    Everyone who opposes government spending speak now or forever hold your peace. (The Chicago Sun Times)

    It’s not exactly time to say “speak now or forever hold your peace,” or even “last call,” but Floridians who want to oppose expanded oil drilling off the Florida coasts should express their views — by Thursday. (The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

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