to clam up

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - clam up

"to clam up"

to not say anything;

to refuse to speak


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - clam up

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  I am a little worried for my job with all these merger changes happening.

Colleague 2:  Have you talked to the boss about it?

Colleague 1:  He just clams up and won't say a word.

Colleague 2:  That is going to make everyone nervous. Not knowing is very stressful.

Colleague 1:  I agree. I just wish the boss would say something one way or another.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - clam up

Two parents are talking ...

Mother:  I am starting to get a little worried about our daughter. She is withdrawing more and more.

Father:  I tried talking to her the other day.

Mother:  What did you learn?

Father:  Nothing. She just clammed up and wouldn't talk about whatever is troubling her.

Mother:  We need to find a way to get her to open up and talk about her troubles.

to clam up - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   352   click for frequency by country

to clam up - Gerund Form:

Clamming up when you don't know the answer is a good idea.

to clam up - Examples:

1)  ... they are geared to talk through problems. Men, by contrast, need to clam up

2)  The logic is that some customers will clam up when asked this question -- but that others will give a lengthy answer.

3)  ... to put the child on the defensive. "You" messages make a child clam up. "I" messages are non-accusing. 

4)  Nerves can make us act in strange ways. Some people clam up entirely when meeting new people, while for others it can trigger nervous chatter.

5)  It will shut down the conversation, the young person will clam up, the parent won't get any more info from them, ...

6)  ... principal had refused to review his decision to suspend Sean and the school had "clammed up" on discussing the matter any further.

7)  ... feeling like an incompetent weirdo (I was a very sensitive child). I clammed up for the remainder of elementary school; it was easier to be silent than ...

8)  So really, it's her own fault and she shouldn't of clammed up when she was publicly called out on it.

9)  About time! For too long, historians have clammed up on this topic, snatching women's history from us and squirrelling it away ...

10)  ... when pressed the player clammed up and would not say any more.

11)  If I've tried to talk issues through when he's not ready he just clams up

12)  ... we discuss our future plans but when I try to talk about the details he clams up.

13)  ... he needs space but when I try and find out what he really means he clams up and I am left texting him again and again to try and find out ...

14)  She doesn't speak of it at all and when asked she clams up.

15)  If on the other hand, he clams up and refuses to talk, make it clear to him that he is indirectly ...

16)  If you simply explain what happened, instead of clamming up and saying you want your lawyer, you will appear less guilty.

17)  Men are notorious for clamming up when it comes to talking about how they feel and what they're thinking.

18)  ... that they must always communicate and strive to be on the same page. No clamming up when one or the other disagrees.

19)  As the teacher circulates to monitor the progress of students s/he finds some groups clamming up, shy; others which had been silent suddenly performing, ...

20)  I loved the crickets. Chirping as you approach, then clamming up when you get there, then resuming their chatter once you're gone.