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I heard this phrase uttered by a Canadian (from Vancouver) once; it left me in awe and elicited my curiosity. Wikipedia was not helpful.

What is its origin? Is this expression used more in certain areas of the world? Is it used in a casual conversation?

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    The wikipedia page you linked to is just listing a bunch of things that have used the expression as a title. None of them are the origin of the phrase! – curiousdannii Sep 27 '14 at 23:57
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    @curiousdannii Good point and I stand corrected. I appreciate your insight on improving the question as well. – Crosscounter Sep 27 '14 at 23:59
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Origin of the Phrase

According to Christine Ammer, The Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés, second edition (2006), the phrase has been around in the United States since approximately 1930:

put one's money where one's mouth is Back up your stated position with action. This term, according to Eric Partridge's informants, was current in the United States from at least 1930 and caught on in Great Britain and other English-speaking countries shortly after Wold War II. In 1975 the British government used it as an advertising slogan to persuade people to invest their savings in the National Savings Bank Accounts Department.

As recently as Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, eighth edition (1984), however, Partridge's informants had not pushed the coinage date earlier than 1945:

put your money where your mouth is! Back your words with cash (cf. the orig., U.S. sense of put up or shut up!); since ca. 1945.


Early Occurrences Found in a Google Books Search

A Google Books search turns up three pre-1930 matches for the phrase. From Howard Washingtom Odum, Rainbow Round My Shoulder: The Blue Trail of Black Ulysses (1928):

“How much you got to put in the game?”

“Five dollars.”

“Hell, that’s not enough.”

“You are a dam’ fool, how much you got?”

“I have ten dollars.

”Well, we can have a good game. Get the cards then and let’s meet the dam’ gang.”

“Deal the jack of di’mon’s, that’s my card.”

“Bet your money, go to hell.”

"Put your money where your mouth is."

"It is down, turn them dam' cards you have fell."

From Trans-communicator, volume 45 (1928) [combined snippets]:

The non is still with us. You can see him strutting his stuff at some of our positions or hear him on the wire making various inquiries as to when he will receive a vacation or increase in pay. Such persons should be told to put their money where their mouths are and they will get results. Just a little more work by us all will go a long ways towards removing these pests, and each of you have been furnished with a list showing these nons. And their locations are well known, so make another effort to try to Induce them to join as ...

And from Trans-communicator, volume 46 (1929) [snippet]:

There are several proposals up for general benefit, but to put them over our support is needed and one of our man ways of supporting our committee is to "put our money where our mouth is—and "pay up." Lafayette District — Bro. Hetherwick

But even older are “put their money where their faith is” (in Methodist Episcopal Church Year Book, 1881), “put your money where your interests are” (in The Railroad Telegrapher, page 1291, September 1905) and “put your money where your heart is” (in Publicity and Progress, 1915, and—as “put his money where his heart is”—in The Harvester World, April 1919).

Perhaps one or more of these other phrases influenced the emergence of “put your money where your mouth is.” Or perhaps the notion of putting your money somewhere is so natural and commonplace in modern English that it was only a matter of time before the mouth came up as a suggested destination.

For a discussion of the older, possibly related phrase "put up or shut up," see What is the origin and sense of the phrase “put up or shut up”?

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"Put your money where your mouth is" dates to at least 1913 as found in the New-York Tribune:

"Put your money where your mouth is," retorted Senator Sheppard. "I am surprised that that remark should by made by any Senator, even from Texas," replied Senator Smoot.

"Put your money where your mouth is," retorted Senator Sheppard.

"I am surprised that that remark should by made by any Senator, even from Texas," replied Senator Smoot.

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You are asking more than one question, anyway the following source can help. According to it this idiom is not offensive and is safe to use:

  • The origin of this idiom is not very clear, however there are two theories and both of them are related to gambling:

    • The first theory states the phrase has its origin in the pubs of Ireland where people used to play gambling games while they drank, and the second theory says that the phrase has its origin in the world of poker playing.

    • However, in modern parlance the phrase is used in many different situations to tell someone that if they truly believe in what they are saying, then they should do more than just talk about it.

For example:

  • Speaker 1: "I am so upset at the plight of all the poor people living in the city" Speaker 2: "You have been saying that for so long, why don't you put your money where your mouth is, and go and work for a charity"

  • In this exchange, the first speaker expresses their opinion that they are upset about the bad conditions in which some poor people the city are living. The second speaker suggests that the first speaker has been talking about this situation for such a long time that the first speaker should really take some action rather than just taking.

  • To put your money where your mouth is, an English idiomatic expression used to encourage people to do more than just talk about a problem.

AmE Ngram shows a bit wider usage of the expression compared to BrE Ngram.

Source: www.english-lessons-blogspot.it

Source: www.en.allexperts.com/q/Etymology

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    It did not particularly come off as upsetting, but it did create an interesting imagery. I will keep your sources handy for future reference. The more you know! – Crosscounter Sep 27 '14 at 22:23
  • Gosh, can this english-lessons-on-line.blogspot.it/2010/04/… be described as a source? It doesn't even mention the name of the writer. It could well be just some "SEO'd site" where they simply suck topical text and generate sites based on phrases. – Fattie Sep 28 '14 at 11:54
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Put your money where your mouth is. Came from England. Con men in markets in the 17th/18th century had toads. They told people that they had great medicinal value. A cure all. People had to eat the toad. The poison would not kill the people but made them ill. The con men did not care as they had moved on. To prove that they were good. They would eat a toad. If they did that they would regurgitate it soon after. Customers did not see this. Or they palmed the toad and hid it. So putting their money where their mouth is.

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    Do you have any corroboration for this? – Andrew Leach Mar 19 '15 at 9:54

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