keep a civil tongue in one's head

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keep a civil tongue in (one's) head

To speak kindly and politely. Please try to keep a civil tongue in your head the next time you talk to Mary, instead of arguing with her, OK?
See also: civil, head, keep, tongue

keep a civil tongue in one's head

Speak politely, as in The teacher won't allow swearing; she says we must keep a civil tongue in our heads. This expression uses tongue in the sense of "a manner of speaking," a usage dating from the 1400s. An early cautionary version was "Keep a good tongue in your head, lest it hurt your teeth" (1595).
See also: civil, head, keep, tongue
References in classic literature ?
Caution deserted me, and I made noise enough to wake the very mute; lost to every consideration but that of the terrifying day before me, the day of silence and of inactivity, that I must live through with an unsuspecting face, a cool head, a civil tongue! The prospect appalled me as nothing else could or did; nay, the sudden noise upon the stairs, the knock at my door, and the sense that I had betrayed myself already even now all was over - these came as a relief after the haunting terror which they interrupted.
"'Are you that?' sez I; 'thin I'm O'Connell the Dictator, an' by this you will larn to kape a civil tongue in your rag-box.'
It was a crestfallen gentleman who rode forth from the castle of Torn a half hour later and spurred rapidly his head a more civil tongue.
"Keep a civil tongue in your head," cried the young man, his face paling in anger, at the insulting tone of the sailor.
But he was not a bad master--he had a monstrous civil tongue of his own, and a jolly, easy, coaxing way with him.
On which he replied, that he would do exactly as he liked, and would just thank her to keep a civil tongue in her head--and the wounded husband went away, and passed the forenoon at the billiard-room, sulky, silent, and suspicious.
"Ain't none of you pilgrims got a civil tongue?", I said in my head, with my jaw set in steely determination.
Let us keep a civil tongue. Let us rule our unruly member!
David Bellman, 45, dubbed the "sweariest man in Britain", is subject to a criminal behaviour order to keep a civil tongue.
When things go well you see letters congratulating the heads of companies and departments, but remember the people who do the work in order for projects to be a success are the unheard-of minions, and those who daily serve the public have to keep a civil tongue in their heads, irrespective of whatever provocation.
But who wants leaders who can't be trusted to keep a civil tongue in their head when dealing with their own colleagues?
'DON'T have a bloody choice, do I, seeing as I'm grounded.' 'You keep a civil tongue in that head of yours.' Helen pulled on her blazer, stuffed her schoolbooks in her bag and stomped off up the hill towards Bryn Tawel.
They might not have a penny to spare but they keep a civil tongue in their head when the children are around and try to moderate their own behaviour.
"If anyone can not keep their wits and a civil tongue in their mouth, they don't deserve to represent Sturbridge," Ms.