Is the correct phrase “to hold your piece” or “to hold your peace”?

This matter is often mentioned together with the matter of “saying one's piece”, which has already been answered. In that context, the answer to the present question appears to also be given, but without any background or argumentation.

Hence, I'd hereby like to pose it explicitly, hoping for a somewhat well-grounded answer, hopefully with its origins

  • 15
    Hold your piece reminds me of the joke about the chap who lived next to a monastery. One night there was the most fearful caterwauling coming from the place and so he phoned the police. The voice at the other end said It's alright they are holding a Monks' Ball. To which the neighbour replied Isn't it about time they let go of it?
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 17:23
  • books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 18:17
  • Without "forever": google.com/…
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 18:19
  • "Hold your peace" means "be quiet". "Hold your piece" means "hang onto that gun (and don't point it at me)".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 18:18

4 Answers 4


"Hold your piece" is not the same thing as "hold your peace," and they are not interchangeable.

The phrase is "Forever hold your peace," which means to make or be at peace with what is happening and to remain silent.

To "speak one's piece" means to say something prepared, as in an opinion or statement... so telling people to "forever hold their piece" is saying "don't ever say what you came here to say."

A. Hold your peace: Be silent, and be at peace.

B. Hold your piece: Shut up.

  • This makes sense, but I don't think I've ever heard the latter (B) in real life. Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 16:00
  • Sounds interchangeable to me. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 20:02
  • @JeffPuckett - how do you know? (whether you've heard it or not. )
    – davidbak
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 15:33
  • Not interchangable: "hold your peace" - accept it gracefully. "hold your piece" - STFU.
    – davidbak
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 15:33

No, you may be confusing two idioms that are antonyms:

  • Say your piece.
  • Hold your tongue.

That said, just before sealing marriage vows, a priest will often admonish, "Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace." So it means keep quiet.

  • Just to be clear, by stating that they are often mentioned together I didn't mean to imply that they are synonymous, but merely that the phrases are apparently often mentioned together
    – fvm
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 11:06

Etymology - Exodus 14:14 The LORD shall fight for you , and ye shall hold your peace.

14:10-14 There was no way open to Israel but upward, and thence their deliverance came. We may be in the way of duty, following God, and hastening toward heaven, yet may be troubled on every side. Some cried out unto the Lord; their fear led them to pray, and that was well. God brings us into straits, that he may bring us to our knees. Others cried out against Moses; fear set them murmuring as if God were not still able to work miracles. They quarrel with Moses for bringing them out of Egypt; and so were angry with God for the greatest kindness ever done them; thus gross are the absurdities of unbelief. Moses says, Fear ye not. It is always our duty and interest, when we cannot get out of troubles, yet to get above our fears; let them quicken our prayers and endeavours, but not silence our faith and hope. Stand still, think not to save yourselves either by fighting or flying; wait God's orders, and observe them. Compose yourselves, by confidence in God, into peaceful thoughts of the great salvation God is about to work for you. If God brings his people into straits, he will find a way to bring them out. Exodus 14:14 Commentaries

  • 8
    This bible verse does not show the origins of the phrase; it simply is an example of where it was used, written sometime between the years 1604 and 1611. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 20:13

Either is correct depending on the context and/or regional meaning of the word used. Even in how it is inferred in the particular denomination using the phrase.

"Hold your peace"....keep emotionally well and wish well also of the couple. "Speak now or forever hold your peace."....say what is needed for your own well-being THEN or speak of it never. You are given an option.

"Hold your piece".... speak nothing negative about the situation/circumstances of the union ever. "Speak now or forever hold your piece." ....say what is needed for the well-being of the couple if there is a negative issue you are aware of or never speak of it at all. You are given the option.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.