What Does Give it a Rest Mean?

Give It a Rest Meaning

Definition: To stop doing something (usually specifically to stop talking about something).

Origin of Give It a Rest

This expression always appears as a command in the imperative form. Because of this, it is not a polite way to tell someone to stop.

Different sources give different dates for this idiom’s origin, ranging from the 1800s to the 1900s. The reason for this disparity could be because initially this expression was much more literal. The earliest examples often refer to actually taking a rest from something.

For example, one early example told athletes to give it a rest when they were tired of practicing, and then to practice some more at a later time.

Over time, the usage changed to reflect a higher percentage of connotations meaning shut up. In this case, it means give that topic a rest, or take a break from that topic.

Examples of Give It a Rest

i will give you a restThe first dialogue shows a brother and sister having lunch with their parents over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Luke: Mom and Dad, you guys should remodel your kitchen to be more modern.

Mother: Perhaps, but we like it this way.

Luke: Come on! It would look way better if you updated it a little.

Ella: Yeah, it would be easier for you guys to cook, too.

Father: If we decide we want to do that, we will. For now, we are happy with our kitchen the way it is.

Luke: Why, though? I’ll help you pay for it. I can even install the new appliances myself.

Mother: We appreciate that you want to help us, but give it a rest. We obviously aren’t comfortable changing our kitchen. Take the hint and change the topic.

and i will give you restThe second example shows two friends who are watching a movie.

Ray: Haha, this movie is terrible! It’s so cheesy.

Ricardo: This is my favorite movie. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make fun of it. If you hate it so much, we can just watch something else.

Ray: How can you like this movie? It has no plot and the characters are ridiculous!

Ricardo: Give it a rest. I’m changing the channel.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about a recap of a popular drama.

  • Sergeant Willis is still thinking about this murder! Can you give it a rest? –Houston Chronicle

This excerpt is from an article about jokesters.

  • Kerley grew up in Tennessee, where his mother was a high school English teacher. “Wordplay was the art of the day,” he says. “But sometimes my wife tells me, ‘Just give it a rest.’ ” –Houston Chronicle


The phrase give it a rest means quit that or don’t talk about that anymore.