What Does “Harping On Something” Mean and Where Did the Expression “Pipe Down” Come From?

The use of harping, as in repeating the same annoying statement or sound, comes from the repetitive and irritating noise made from tuning each string of a harp.

If you tell the person harping on one string to “pipe down,” you are using a naval term.

On early naval vessels, the boatswain’s final function for the day was to whistle or pipe down a signal for the crew to settle in and be quiet for the night.

If you want someone to stop “harping” on something you might say, “Pipe down”.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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