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If these walls could talk...

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 02, 2006

In Reply to: posted by Jonathan on August 01, 2006

: : what is the story behind the phrase, "If these walls could talk"...

: : If "these walls could talk" they would tell you the story. That, in essence, is what the phrase means. It refers to something said or done behind closed doors, usually something unsavory or something that one would like to keep hidden. How about when "these walls have ears" referring to someone who listens in on the other side of the wall or door. That someone is typically a nosy busybody, and is especially naughty when they press a glass up to the wall so they can better hear what is being said on the other side of the wall. If "these walls have ears," then "these walls can talk." Jonathan

I think the expression, "If the walls could talk," or something similar is very old. It has gained renewed familiarity with two movies, one from 1996, "If these walls could talk," consisting of three independent stories, each dealing with an aspect of abortion, all taking place in the same house; and a television version of 2000, called "If these walls could talk 2," also consisting of three playlets, but each dealing with Lesbianism.

The expression always brings to ming another: "the walls have ears." In action-adventure stories the expression is often used when one expects to find that the room has been bugged. But the phrase is a lot older than electonic listening devices. tells us:
"The conversation is easily overheard, someone is listening, as in Be careful what you say; the walls have ears. This saying may come from a story about Dionysius of Syracuse (430-367 b.c.), who had an ear-shaped cave cut and connected between the rooms of his palace so that he could hear what was being said from another room. Similar listening posts were installed in other palaces over the centuries, including the Louvre in Paris. In English the phrase was first recorded in its present form in 1620." See: topic/the-walls-have-ears

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