Loose Lips Might Sink Ships

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Loose Lips Might Sink Ships, Seymour R. Goff, 1941, National Archives, 513543

This well-known slogan coined in World War II by the War Advertising Council was used on materials by the United States Office of War Information (OWI), whose purpose was to keep the home front connected to the war effort through various forms of media and propaganda campaigns. The iconic poster featuring this slogan was published in 1941 by Seagram Distillers Corporation for display in bars to contribute to the National Victory Effort.

The message was part of a larger propaganda campaign warning that careless talk might be overheard by enemy spies and could undermine the war effort. The imagery and tagline stirred guilt by implying that openly discussing sensitive matters could have disastrous consequences.

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Careless Talk Costs Lives, Reeves, 1939-1946, National Archives (UK), INF 3/278

Numerous countries enacted similar campaigns with their own catchy slogans. The British favored “Careless Talk Costs Lives,” while the Swedish promoted the image of a tiger with the slogan “en svensk tiger” or “a Swede keeps silent,” a play on words as “tiger” in Swedish has the dual meaning “tiger” or “keeps silent.”

While espionage was a legitimate concern during World War II, the intent of these campaigns was also to limit the spread of distressing news during the war that might hurt morale.

Loose Lips Might Sink Ships