keep a civil tongue in one's head


Speak politely, as in The teacher won't allow swearing; she says we must keep a civil tongue in our heads. This expression uses tongue in the sense of “a manner of speaking,” a usage dating from the 1400s. An early cautionary version was “Keep a good tongue in your head, lest it hurt your teeth” (1595).

QUIZZES

IS YOUR DESERT PLANT KNOWLEDGE SUCCULENT OR DRIED UP?

Cactus aficionados, don't get left in the dust with this quiz on desert plants. Find out if you have the knowledge to survive this prickly foray into the desert!
Question 1 of 7
This tall, horizontally branched cactus is probably the most recognizable cactus in Arizona. What is it called?

Words nearby keep a civil tongue in one's head

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.