"Snitches get stitches” (also “snitches wear stitches") is a street slang warning not to cooperate with the police ("snitch") or there will be violence ("stitches"). The saying has been cited in print since at least the late 1980s and is of unknown origin, although many citations appear to trace it to New York City. The ending rhyme “and end up it ditches” has been used since at least the early 2000s.
The Search for Structure:
A Report on American Youth Today
By Francis A. J. Ianni
New York, NY: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan
Relationships with the correctional staff, however, do not offer protection, and one maxim learned by each new inmate is “Snitches get stitches,” so few try to survive by informing to the staff.
New York (NY) Times
Inside Rikers Island: A Bloody Struggle for Control
By TIM GOLDEN
Published: September 01, 1990
The depth of distrust between officers and inmates belies a relationship that is often far more complex. Like the inmates, the rank-and-file officers are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, young and working-class. Often they are from the same neighborhoods. And often, despite the dictum that “snitches get stitches,” they do each other favors.
Google News Archive
20 December 1992, Allegheny Times (Western Allegheny County, PA),, “Philadelphia Schools Grapple With Violent Student Episodes,” pg. A2, col. 1:
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The kids know the rule. On the streets or in school, “snitches get stitches.”
13 December 1993, New York magazine, “Killer Cowboys: The violent saga of the city’s deadliest drug gang” by Michael Stone, pg. 63, col. 2:
Another was told, “Snitches get stitches,” and slashed.
5 May 1995, Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA), “Code Of Silence Is Invitation To Anarchy” (An Editorial From The Washington Post), pg. 6, cols. 4-5:
THE CODE OF SILENCE, unfortunately and tragically, is commonplace in many violence-drenched neighborhoods, where “snitches get stitches” is regarded as a self-evident truth.
22 October 2001, The News Press (Fort Myers, FL), “Schools promote good communication” by David E. Plazas, pg. H1:
“There’s the old phrase, `Snitches get stitches and get found on the side of ditches,’” said Anthony Thomas, 18, a Fort Myers High senior.
26 August 2006, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), pg. A4, col. 3:
“People don’t want to be cooperative. There’s the idea that ‘snitches get stitches and end up in ditches.’”
(Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels—ed.)
OCLC WorldCat record
Snitches get stitches : youth, gangs, and witness intimidation in Massachusetts
Author: Julie L Whitman; Robert C Davis; Massachusetts. Executive Office of Public Safety. Programs Division.
Publisher: Washington, DC : National Center for Victims of Crime, ©2007.
Edition/Format: Book : English
Let’s Get Free:
A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice
By Paul Butler
New York, NY: The New Press
Stop Fucking Snitching also had a merchandising tie-in: T-shirts, big and white and loose-fitting, with legends like “Don’t Be a Snitch,” “Snitches Get Stitches,” and “Niggas Just Lookin’ for a Deal.” For a few months in 2005, these white “tees” were the height of fashion for African American teenagers in Baltimore.
Diary of a Young Girl
By Mark Anthony
Deer Park, NY: Urban Books, LLC
“Snitches get stitches is what they say back in Brooklyn.”
Title Snitches Get Stitches: An Examination of Bullying
Author Anjanette Stewart
Publisher Lambert Academic Publishing, 2012
ISBN 3659212776, 9783659212772
Length 148 pages
snitches get stitches
An phrase used by urban communities that was intended to keep the police out of neighborhood business. The phrase reminds those seeking the help of police that their tattling will result in a severe beating. Unfortunately, This phrase has become a large reason why urban communities remain riddled with violence and poverty.
by pseudiddlyoodonym Aug 9, 2012
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • Thursday, January 03, 2013 • Permalink