Put words in someone’s mouth is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom put words in someone’s mouth, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
To put words in someone’s mouth means to ascribe a quote or a sentiment to someone that is not truly theirs; to say that someone said something that he didn’t say; to say that someone believes something that he doesn’t believe. The phenomenon of putting words in someone’s mouth often happens in politics. It is a manner of distorting the truth. The expression to put words in someone’s mouth is often used in the negative: Don’t put words in my mouth, or I don’t want to put words in your mouth. The phrase put words in someone’s mouth is very old; it has been in use at least since the 1300s. Related phrases are puts words in someone’s mouth, putting words in someone’s mouth.
Asked Friday if he agreed the NFL’s response has been insufficient, Flores said, “Nobody’s going to put words in my mouth about how I feel about this, that or the other thing.” (The Palm Beach Post)
Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro, who was quoted by Woodward, declared that the reporter “put words in my mouth I never said.” (The Week Magazine)
I’d never put words in his mouth, but I think at the time he knew he had more in him. (Rolling Stone Magazine)