clam up

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clam up

To suddenly stop talking or refuse to speak, typically due to a particular reason. The phrase refers to a clam closing its shell. Naturally, everyone clammed up as soon as the check came. Our usual informant clammed up when he realized there was a mole in the department.
See also: clam, up

clam up

to say nothing. (Closing one's mouth in the way that a clam closes up.) The minute they got him in for questioning, he clammed up. You'll clam up if you know what's good for you.
See also: clam, up

clam up

to refuse to talk or answer Every time I think he's going to tell me what's bothering him, he just clams up.
Etymology: based on the behavior of a clam (a sea creature), which quickly closes its shell when something touches it
See also: clam, up

clam up

Refuse to talk or respond, as in Whenever she asks her teenager about his activities, he clams up. This term alludes to the tightly closed valves of a live clam. [Slang; early 1900s]
See also: clam, up

clam up

v. Slang
To refuse to talk or to stop talking suddenly: The politician clammed up when the reporters started to ask about the scandal.
See also: clam, up

clam up

in. to get quiet. (see also dummy up.) The minute they got him inside the cop-shop, he clammed up.
See also: clam, up