Learn English – When should I use “Keep it civil”


Here is where I first heard the slang: Champion for Democracy? – Woodrow Wilson

Towards the end of the video, Neidell urges viewers to post their views about Wilson and says: "Please keep it civil!", in a seemingly cautioning, still friendly, manner.

I looked up its definition and as per Urban Dictionary, I concluded it's best suited for a heated discussion or a raw, not as friendly advice.

The question is: When should I use it? Does it reflect anger or intimidation? Could it be used in a friendly manner? And is it old-fashioned?

Best Answer

Sometimes said as "keep a civil tongue" instead of "keep it civil," this phrase can be used as a warning to someone/ a group to maintain civil (courteous and polite) behavior, usually when a controversial topic will be discussed or you see that tensions are rising between people for any reason.

Using "keep it civil" can elicit different reactions depending on how you say it.

E.g.) Scolding someone with this phrase could lead to them actually acting even less civil.

E.g.) Using it casually when addressing 2+ people would probably be an effective reminder to them.

As for it being old, I disagree. It's something I still use today pretty commonly.

Here's the TFD definition of keep a civil tongue

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?