Acqua in bocca

Acqua in bocca in Italian

Acqua in bocca
Lips sealed, not a word

Literal translationWater in [the] mouth
MeaningUsed to ask someone to keep a secret
IPA pronunciation/ˈakkwa im ˈbɔkka/

Where does this come from? Take a sip of water. Now take another sip until your mouth is full. Can you talk? I bet you can’t without spilling all the water! And if you can’t talk, you can’t share a secret (segreto) with anyone else… 😉

It is believed that this phrase comes from the story of a very religious but gossipy Italian woman. One day this woman confessed to the priest that she was tired of gossiping because it was considered a sin and she wanted to find a cure for it. The story goes that the priest gave her a water jug and told her to take a sip every time she felt like gossiping. And… it worked!

woman signing to keep a secret

For example, you can say…

Stiamo preparando una festa a sorpresa per il compleanno di Riccardo. Acqua in bocca!
We are planning a surprise party for Riccardo’s birthday. Not a word!

Ho intenzione di prendere un cane per Natale. Acqua in bocca, mi raccomando!
I plan to get a dog for Christmas. Lips sealed, mind you!


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