Ask the Editor
Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large
'Speak your piece' and 'hold your peace'
Wednesday November 11th 2009
'Speak your piece' and 'hold your peace'

Speak your piece and hold your peace are two common idioms in English.

It's easy to confuse the spelling of piece/peace in these idioms, but there is a logic to the difference.

Speak your piece means "state your opinion or view." One sense of the word piece is specific to this expression.

He'd planned to speak his piece at the next meeting.

I encourage you all to speak your piece before we decide.

Several other residents came forward to speak their piece.


Hold your peace means the same as hold your tongue: "to keep silent or to not say anything about something." It's commonly heard in traditional marriage vows:

Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace. (This line is old-fashioned and not used very often anymore, but is heard in old movies depicting wedding ceremonies).

You must hold your peace and accept the changes.

The waiter was discreet and held his peace.


Learn more about words related to this entry: