Idiom or Modern Proverb: Put your money where your mouth is (antedating 1921 April 26)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 24 19:41:00 UTC 2010

Stephen Goranson wrote
> Put your money where your mouth is.
> Thanks. Iinteresting. Here's another:
> New-York tribune. Sunday, August 24, 1913, Image 4
> August 24, 1913, Page 4, Image 4
> Senators in Clashes Over Wool Schedule
> ...The Texas Senator [Sheppard] tried to refute statements made by Senator Smoot
> regarding the importation of woolen goods under the Wilson-Gorman tariff law
> and challenged him to produce his figures. The Utah senator explained that he did not
> have them with him.
> "Put your money where your mouth is," retorted Senator Sheppard.
> "I am surprised that that remark should be made by any Senator,
> even from Texas," replied Senator Smoot.
> Then followed hot words and a challenge by Senator Sheppard
> to compare Texas with Utah
> Stephen Goranson

Many thanks for finding this superb cite and pointing out the utility
of the Chronicling America database.

Jesse Sheidlower wrote
> Thanks for this antedating, Garson. Note that OED has this,
> under MONEY n. Phrases P2.a.(n), with a first quotation from
> Zora Neale Hurston in 1942.

Thanks for your response. Glad I could help, and Stephen could provide
additional help.

I sometimes look for precursors to sayings, and the second OED cite in
1951 nicely includes another phrase used synonymously: put up or shut
up. This saying implicitly shares the keywords money and mouth and is
semantically aligned as shown in an expanded version in an earlier
time frame:

Citation: 1903 December, The Pall Mall Magazine, The Round Table: The
Tidal Wave by W. L. Alden, Page 573, Volume 31, G. Routledge and Sons

He flung his hat down on deck and jumped on it, and then he sung out
to Anderson, 'I'll bet you a thousand dollars we get there before you
do. Now put up your money or shut up your blasted mouth!'

I have not tried to trace "put up or shut up", but it exists in the
1860s, years before the earliest known cite for "put your money where
your mouth is".


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