'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is': Definition, Meaning, Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on November 3, 2023

Have you ever heard someone say, 'Put your money where your mouth is'? If so, you probably thought to yourself, what a strange expression! And you'd be correct, but what does it mean? Are you expected to eat your money or something? Let's find out! In this article, you'll learn the meaning of this peculiar saying, its possible origins, and how to use it in a sentence.

But if you just want the short version, here it is:

  • When someone says, 'Put your money where your mouth is,' they mean that you should prove you're really serious about something by taking action or investing money into it.

What Does 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is' Mean?

'Put your money where your mouth is' is an idiom that means to back up your words or opinions with concrete action or financial commitment. So no, you don't have to eat your money or anything weird like that!

  • The idea is that if you're going to make bold statements or claims, you should be willing to demonstrate your commitment through actions, especially in a way that involves some personal investment, often financial.

For example, if someone is constantly talking about the importance of environmental conservation, someone might say,

If you really care about it, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and donate to an environmental organization? 

Because there's a verb in this idiom ('put'), you might see it appear in different forms, including:

You can also use different pronouns, such as:

  • 'put her money where her mouth is'
  • 'put our money where our mouth is'
  • 'put their money where their mouth is'

Where Does 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is' Come From?

The precise origin of the idiom 'Put your money where your mouth is' is a bit challenging to pinpoint, as the evolution of idioms is often gradual and not always well-documented. The expression likely emerged in colloquial usage in the 30s, possibly in American English.

It is thought that the expression was originally used to convince people to sign up with the National Savings Bank and trust them with their savings. But evidence for this theory is scarce, so it could be an urban legend!

But we do know for sure it's been around since at least 1928 because it appeared in Howard W. Odun's works published that year under the name Rainbow Round My Shoulder: The Blue Trail of Black Ulysses:

How much you got to put in the game? 

Five dollars. 

Hell, that’s not enough. 

You are a dam’ fool, how much you got? 

I have ten dollars.

Well, we can have a good game. Get the cards then and let’s meet the dam’ gang. 

Deal the jack of di’mon’s, that’s my card. 

Bet your money, go to hell. 

Put your money where your mouth is. 

It is down, turn them dam' cards you have fell. 

Christine Ammer's 2006 book The Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés further backs this up in the following passage:

Put one's money where one's mouth is Back up your stated position with action. This term, according to Eric Partridge's informants, was current in the United States from at least 1930 and caught on in Great Britain and other English-speaking countries shortly after Wold War II. In 1975 the British government used it as an advertising slogan to persuade people to invest their savings in the National Savings Bank Accounts Department. 

Variants of this expression have been found even earlier, such as 'Put your money where your faith is' and 'Put your money where your heart is.'

Examples in Sentences

Now that we've covered the meaning of this idiom and its origins, here are some example sentences that use it. Since I mentioned earlier you can use various verb forms and pronouns, I will include examples that reflect that, including the imperative, third-person singular, and present participle, as well as a variety of pronouns.

If you claim that this business idea is so promising, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and invest in it yourself?

Talking about the importance of education is one thing, but you should really put your money where your mouth is and support local schools with donations.

Despite facing skepticism about her commitment to the cause, Sarah consistently puts her money where her mouth is by actively participating in environmental cleanup initiatives

It's easy to criticize the government's policies, but if you want real change, you need to put your money where your mouth is and participate in the democratic process.

Instead of just saying you're committed to sustainability, why not put your money where your mouth is and switch to eco-friendly practices in your business?

Before giving advice on stock investments, consider putting your money where your mouth is and investing in the same stocks you recommend to others.

You've been boasting about your poker skills all night; now it's time to put your money where your mouth is and join the game.

Advocates for affordable housing often urge policymakers to put their money where their mouths are and allocate sufficient funds to address the housing crisis.

After weeks of boasting about his ability to beat anyone in a chess match, Mark finally decided to put his money where his mouth is and challenge the reigning champion to a game.

Before criticizing the team's performance, the coach told the players to put their money where their mouths were and demonstrate improvement on the field. 

Other Ways to Say 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is'

There are plenty of other ways to tell someone to back their words up with action. They're great to use if you're looking for alternative phrases.

Here are some of them:

  • Walk the talk.
  • Practice what you preach.
  • Show me the money.
  • Put up or shut up.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Prove it with your actions.
  • Demonstrate your commitment.
  • Don't just talk, act.
  • Commit with deeds, not just words.

Concluding Thoughts

That concludes this article about this popular idiom. To summarize, when someone tells you to 'put your money where your mouth is,' they mean you should use your actions to demonstrate that you really believe what you're saying.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!  

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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