Now I know you could ask someone to say some word or sentence fast.

The white man asked him if he knew just where he was, and said, "Well, down here, you say 'mister' and you say it snappy, you hear." The colored man replied, "Now, I don't say 'mister' to nobody."

Source: Southern Humor, Duke University Press, 1995

But what if someone, let's say your son, wants to say how something has happened. You are in rush or you don't feel like listening to a long story. In a very informal speech, can you we say:

Okay, but say it snappy.

You better say it snappy.

Cut to the chase is not an option because I would say it when I interrupt someone who otherwise would go on about something too much.

Also, what other idiomatic expressions you might say in a scenario like this?

  • 1
    Yes, "Look lively!" and "Look alive!" are synonymous (they both mean "Hurry up! Stir yourself!", not "Watch out! Be careful!"). You could certainly use "Okay, but get a move on!" figuratively in the example in your question. In case I didn't make it clear before, your cited usage from Southern Humor is fine, but it doesn't work at all well in your next example. As I said, "Say it snappy!" would normally be just "weird", but the first cited example is an unusual context where it does work. Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 14:19
  • 1
    Note that in AmE "Look sharp!" is sometimes used to mean "Be careful! Watch out!", but I'm not sure how common that is compared to the standard BrE meaning "Hurry up!". Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 14:24
  • 1
    @learner Chop-chop! should work. Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 14:36
  • 1
    @learner: Chop chop is pidgin, deriving from Chinese k'wâi-k'wâi. It might be advisable to avoid it around Chinese people, to be sure of not giving offence. Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 16:19
  • 1
    @learner I incline to agree with FumbleFingers, though I'm not very sure that Chinese people will take it as offensive, given that it's delivered in good spirits. (In any case, I don't think that saying chopsticks is offensive. And if I recall correctly chop-chop and chopsticks share the same root.) By the way, I also found it used in another movie, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters! Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


"Make it snappy!" is usually said as an informal order to a subordinate. This implies that the speaker considers himself the superior, and also that they do not consider the subordinate worthy of a more formal phrase. It is not exactly insulting, but it is close.

In the example, the white man is trying to bully the black man into calling him "mister" as a sign of respect, and using "make it snappy" to imply that it had better happen soon or else. The phrase "down here" means they are likely in the American South, where there is a history of violence between white people and black people, so this might not be an idle threat.


If I wanted someone to speak more concisely, I might say "Bottom-line it for me", which means to provide a simple conclusion and skip the supporting evidence. "Sum it up" also has the same meaning, but is more abrupt.

"Cut to the chase" is another phrase that is kind of funny. In filmmaking, a cut is a change of scene. In some films, particularly from the 1970s, the movie includes a spectacular car chase but is otherwise dull. The audience might sit through bad story and poor acting, or they might demand that they "just cut to the chase!"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .