So... "take your foot out of your mouth" is an interesting idiom. It's an admonishment (both a scolding and a recommendation) for when someone says something unintentionally insensitive; roughly, "think before you speak", but noting not just that the speaker failed to do so, but that what they said was offensive, not just unintended.

I'm writing a story about non-humans, so the idiom doesn't quite fit and I'm looking for alternatives. Is there any other idiomatic phrase that has an equivalent meaning? ("Think before you speak" isn't idiomatic. Nothing else is coming to mind.)

  • 1
    Answers in comments have been deleted. Do not under any circumstances do so again.
    – tchrist
    Jul 23 at 22:33
  • @tchrist - Surely you didn't consider my comment to be an "answer".
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 23 at 22:43
  • @tchrist I have not seen or contributed to the deleted comments but your own is not the first such admonishment I have seen recently on the site. Is there a general problem?
    – Anton
    Jul 24 at 7:12
  • @user66974 Informative. Thanks.
    – Anton
    Jul 24 at 10:32

1 Answer 1


A similar admonishment is Look before you leap. It is relevant, although not specific, to speaking. Because it relies on an analogy between acting without thought of consequence and leaping (off a height, over a gap, into the dark, etc) without attention to the danger, it is not literal, and is entirely idiomatic.

to check that something is not going to cause problems or have a bad result before you do it

  • Would the Downvoter care to explain to the Questioner why this answer is so bad? Or was it mere pique? I am intrigued.
    – Anton
    Jul 24 at 13:24
  • I didn't DV, but this is not only not specific to speech, it's not really about doing something inappropriate. Also, "take your foot out of your mouth" is said after the inappropriate action has taken place, while "look before you leap" is general advice in advance.
    – Barmar
    Jul 25 at 20:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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