keep shtum

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keep shtum (third-person singular simple present keeps shtum, present participle keeping shtum, simple past and past participle kept shtum)

  1. (intransitive, colloquial, idiomatic) Not tell anyone; especially, keep silent about something that may be sensitive or secret.
    If I tell you, you have to promise to keep shtum about it.
    • 1996, John le Carré, The Tailor of Panama, London: Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 978-0-340-68478-8; republished New York, N.Y.: Ballantine Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-345-42043-5, page 104:
      Charlie Blüthner is the shmatte king of Panama, and he wouldn't be where he is today if Benny hadn't kept shtum for him just like you did for me.
    • 2010, M. T. McGuire, chapter 62, in Few Are Chosen (K'Barthan Series; part 1), United Kingdom: Hamgee University Press, ↑ISBN:
      His only chance of survival was to keep schtum. His only way of saving the others was to keep schtum and the only chance of actually keeping schtum was not to be around to do any talking. He must escape. Now.
    • 2010, Chris Mullin, Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005–2010, London: Profile Books, ↑ISBN:
      This evening, at a thinly attended meeting of the parliamentary party, Jim Sheridan demanded to know why ministers were interfering in the strike by the BA cabin crew – both Andrew Adonis and Gordon [Brown] denounced the strikers over the weekend. 'How have we got ourselves into this situation?' asked Ken Purchase, pointing out that there had been two ballots, the last of which came out 80 per cent in favour of strike action. 'We should either be keeping shtum or back the workers.'
    • 2012, Kevin Barry, Dark Lies the Island: Stories, London: Jonathan Cape, ↑ISBN, page 12:
      And I would plead that the situation is not unusual. It's just one of those things you're supposed to keep shtum about.
    • 2013, Ann Granger, Bricks and Mortality (Campbell and Carter Mystery; 3), London: Headline Publishing Group, ↑ISBN:
      Reggie is another one who keeps shtum about things. But one Christmas, when I was over here and called in to wish them seasonal good cheer, we had a few whiskies and he got loquacious.


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