put your foot in it

put your foot in it (British)
also, put your foot in your mouth

Meaning

  • say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone
  • make an embarrassing, inappropriate or stupid statement
  • causing embarrassment with a tactless remark
  • to be unintentionally disrespectful, thoughtless, or offensive
  • to commit an indiscretion or social blunder
  • to accidentally do or say something that you later regret

Example Sentences

  1. Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she’s not expecting but had just put on weight.
  2. The president is always putting his foot in his mouth. He embarrasses himself and his party every time he speaks.
  3. Martin put his foot in it today. He was moaning about having no bonuses this year, and the boss was standing right behind him. How awkward!
  4. Mary and Joe had such a row the whole street must have been able to hear it. Apparently, Joe had put his foot in it by referring to her by his first wife’s name.
  5. A couple of times, it’s happened that someone really had screwed up on my team, and I put my foot in my mouth.
  6. I suggest you that don’t put your foot in your mouth at the party and look stupid.
  7. The first impression does matter unless you put your foot in your mouth and manage to ruin the interaction before it starts.
  8. At some point in your quest to learn Spanish, it is quite likely that you will put your foot in it and that will leave those around you clutching their sides as they try to control the laughter.
  9. You’re blessed with the ability to gab but are also known to put your foot in it.

Origin

This informal phrase dates back to at least the early 1700s, and there is mixed history for it.

One origin alludes to stepping in something unpleasant. In ‘Polite Conversation,’ Jonathan Swift wrote, ‘The bishop has put his foot in it.‘ In 1823 the phrase was defined in a book of slang.

Other sources say that it derived from a variation of ‘foot and mouth disease’ –  a dreadful medical condition affecting livestock with hooves. Although it is possible for cows and sheep to recover, farmers usually destroy infected animals in order to stop the spread amongst the rest of the flock or herd.

So, ‘foot in mouth disease’ would imply that someone has said/done something as awful or problematic as this disease.

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