We’ve all heard the phrase “snitches get stitches,” and it’s usually after witnessing something we shouldn’t have. Have you ever wondered what the phrase’s origin is and why we use it today?
“Snitches get stitches” is a modern colloquialism where one person threatens to harm someone if they tell what they’ve seen. It’s popular in street culture, rap music, and adolescents.
What Does Snitches Get Stitches Mean?
“Snitching” is the act of one party telling on another party to either the authorities or a third party. That can be difficult, so to avoid confusing ourselves, I will assign people names.
Let’s say Mary beats up Joe, and Alli witnesses it. Alli then goes to the cops and tells them what she saw. That’s Alli “snitching” on Mary.
“Stitches” is the ultimate threat of what the snitch will need after the first party involved gets their hands on them. So when Mary finds out that Alli snitched, Alli will need stitches because Mary will badly beat her up. The term was designed to keep people in line.
Origin of Snitches Get Stitches
The term initially signified gang members in prison who were labeled as “informers” or “tattle-tales.” They would be marked by a long scar across their face or cheek. The scar made them an open target in most prisons because nobody likes a snitch.
Now, the phrase is less threatening and more of a verbal warning. The term was popularized in the 90s thanks to hip-hop culture and Hollywood. Hollywood uses it as a dramatic threat to the main character in a movie as they face a moral dilemma.
Examples of Snitches Get Stitches
“I’m not telling the cops anything, man. Snitches get stitches.”
“You want to tell Becky that Ron is cheating on her? I’m not. He’ll come after us, and snitches get stitches.”
“You’re gonna keep your mouth shut because snitches get stitches, won’t ya?”
“I’ll be quiet. I know snitches get stitches.”
What To Do if Someone Says It to You
First, stay calm. Is it a friend saying it to you, or is it someone you don’t know very well? The worst-case scenario would be a stranger saying it to you because you can’t be sure if they mean it literally. If it is a friend, give them some pushback!
If it’s not a friend, try safely removing yourself from the situation. If you witnessed something worth reporting, you still should. The threat is most likely empty, and the person was trying to scare you into backing off.
If you fear for your safety, inform authorities when you give your statement. They have resources to help you and can often use the phrase in court as proof of a threat.
The term “snitches get stitches” has been around for a while but stayed within gang culture until hip-hop became more mainstream. Originally meant as a severe threat, the phrase is now used between friends as jokes and in Hollywood as dramatic one-liners.