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Loose Lips Sink Ships

A rusted ship sunk in shallow water. loose lips sink ships

Loose Lips Sink Ships Definition

Loose lips sink ships.

  • Careless talk can cause bad things to happen
  • Beware of unguarded talk


Loose lips imply someone who cannot shut their mouth. Someone like that may let the wrong person aware of their ship’s weakness, or even just it’s location. If the wrong person obtained that information, it could lead to the ship’s demise

Loose Lips Sink Ships Examples

  • Daryl was asking me if I want to hear why our manager got fired. I told him loose lips sink ships, as I noticed our upper manager approaching.
  • Remember, loose lips sink ships! Our Commander reminded us as we left our leaked Intelligence briefing.


We need not be paranoiac but let us follow our path, with consistency and common sense, and avoid being run over by the steamroller of social media through loose-tongued prattle and unthoughtful actions. We must be aware that loose lips sink ships.

Erik Pevernagie

loose lips don’t merely sink ships, they summon krakens with too many tentacles.

Charles Stross

Loose Lips Sink Ships Origin

Created by the War Advertising Council, this nautical idiom is from an ad campaign dating back to World War II. It appeared in posters for the United States Office of War Information. The campaign also used several other slogans, but none managed to become a cultural staple like our idiom today.

The purpose of the ad campaign was to keep soldiers aware of leaking delicate information to potential spies. Conveying that one small piece of important intel if revealed to the wrong person, could cause severe damage.

Some historians argue that the campaign was not truly about spies, but a propaganda campaign. That it’s purpose is to discourage soldiers from spreading rumors, questioning the war effort, or otherwise hurting morale and production.

The ad campaign containing our idiom originated in 1942 shortly after the creation of the War Advertising Council. Other slogans include “Keep it under your stetson” and “Loose talk costs lives”.

Shortly after the Security of Information campaign came the Women in War Time campaign. This campaign boasts being the most successful recruitment campaign in American history. Bringing two million women into the workforce to support the wartime economy. Women were not socially expected to work outside the home.