put words in someone's mouth

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



put words in someone's mouth (third-person singular simple present puts words in someone's mouth, present participle putting words in someone's mouth, simple past and past participle put words in someone's mouth)

  1. (idiomatic) To say or imply that someone has said something which he or she did not precisely or directly say.
    • 1825, Sir Walter Scott, The Talisman, ch. 20:
      "Let not anger or grief for the absence of thy lover make thee unjust to thy kinsman. . . ."
      "The absence of my lover?" said the Lady Edith, "But yes, he may be well termed my lover, who hath paid so dear for the title. Unworthy as I might be of such homage, I was to him like a light, leading him forward in the noble path of chivalry; but that I forgot my rank, or that he presumed beyond his, is false. . . ."
      "My fair cousin," said Richard, "do not put words in my mouth which I have not spoken. I said not you had graced this man beyond the favour which a good knight may earn."
    • 1920, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Rilla of Ingleside, ch. 14:
      "But thank God," she muttered in a lower tone, "that Shirley is not old enough to go."
      "Isn't that the same thing as thanking Him that some other woman's son has to go in Shirley's place?" asked the doctor. . . .
      "No, it is not, doctor dear," said Susan defiantly. . . . "Do not you put words in my mouth that I would never dream of uttering.
  2. (idiomatic) To encourage or induce someone to appear to assert something by asking a leading question or by otherwise manipulating him or her.
    • 1981 May 6, E. R. Shipp, "Crimmins jurors are told details of interrogation," New York Times (retrieved 2 Dec 2016):
      The defense has contended that the detectives used "psychological threats" to get Mr. Crimmins to make certain admissions and that they "put words in his mouth."
    • 2016 April 11, Joel Connelly, "Obama tells Fox News it is Republicans' "own TV network"," Seattle Post-Intelligencer (retrieved 2 Dec 2016):
      Obama discussed political polarization. . . . "Republicans, they have their own TV station."
      Chris Wallace cut the president off. . . . "Go ahead, you can say Fox News," said Wallace.
      Obama did not let Wallace put words in his mouth, but continued: "They've got their own publications, their own blogs. Democrats, same thing."


  • (say or imply that someone has said a thing which he or she did not precisely or directly say): twist someone's words