Pipe Down ~*Donna*~ Helgeson ~*Donna*~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: How did "pipe down" come to mean, "be quiet?"
The tone of this expression puts it somewhere between "please lower your voice" and "shut your mouth!" But the words in it don't place it anywhere that's at all obvious. What pipe? Where? Why? Who's smoking it?
The reality is that pipe down is yet another expression that comes from the days of sailing ships. The "pipe" in question was a whistle used by the boatswain, a petty officer--sort of a sergeant--who supervised a work crew on deck. When he blew "pipe down" his men were free to go below. Once they went below, it was quiet on deck. And that's the condition to which you aspire when you tell someone to pipe down.
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