Put up or shut up

Put up or shut up is an idiom; controversy rages concerning its origin. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom put up or shut up, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Put up or shut up is a challenge to stop simply talking or complaining about a problem and take action. Put up or shut up commands that one either do something or stop talking about doing something. For instance, someone who complains about his local school system may be told to stop complaining and volunteer to make the schools better—to put up or shut up. The expression put up or shut up seems to have originated in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. However, its origin is unclear. The idiom put or shut up may be a reference to putting one’s fists up in front of him when preparing to fight; or it may be a reference to poker, in which a play must either ante up or fold.

Examples

IN Championship terms, it is time for Armagh to put up or shut up. (Irish News)

No one has out-recruited Scott Frost in the last two or three seasons in the West, so for me, it’s time to put up or shut up. (Aurora News-Register)

They also have a message for Cyber Ninjas, the company running the Arizona recount effort: “Put up or shut up.” (Arizona Republic)