Zip it

Zip it is an idiom that has only been in popular use for about half a century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech often use descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression 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 have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. 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 possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase zip it, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Zip it is an imperative or a demand that someone stop talking. One may be told to zip it if one is about to divulge a secret or give more information than others want to hear, or one may be told to zip it simply because he is talking incessantly. Zip it is a rude term and is not used in polite or business English. Examples of the use of the expression zip it may be found from the 1930s, but the phrase became much more popular in the 1970s and beyond. The image that the idiom is based on is zipping one’s lips closed. Zip it is considered an American idiom, though its use has spread.


Botterill can send a message to his club by doing that and can send the word to agents they should zip it, too. (The Buffalo News)

‘As she continued to rant and rave, I told her to be quiet. Told her to zip it.’ (The Daily Mail)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III hit back at critics of the Senate panel’s investigation into the “ninja cops” issue, saying that those who are not familiar with the Senate rules should just “zip it.” (The Inquirer)

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