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How to say "shut up" in French: all you need to know

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Please just shut up! There are some extreme situations when you arrive at the point that you can't stand the speech of someone anymore and all you want to say is zip your mouth! It is not the best of situations but just in case you need to say it in French, here is how to say shut up in the French language. Keep on reading to find out more.

1. Silence - keep quiet

Silence can be used in several contexts. For instance, a teacher can say silence when he wants the pupils to remain quiet in the classroom.

Silence can also be used to request quietness in places with a crowd: at the library, or in a conference room,... You will sometimes hear in French " on va observer une minute de silence" which means that we are going to observe one-minute silence. In general, this sentence is used to pay tribute to someone deceased.

2. Tais-toi ! - shut up

The verb used for shut up in French is the reflexive se taire. The imperative form is used to say shut up! Depending on your relationship, you might say tais-toi or taisez-vous. Remember that there is a difference between tu and vous. You can make it followed by the polite basic phrase s'il vous plaît or s'il te plaît as a way of begging for quietness.

3. Ferme ta gueule - Shut your mouth

The word gueule is mostly used for the mouth of some animals. So, when someone says "ta gueule" that means it is kind of an insult.

Ferme ta gueule is a French slang, equivalent to shutting your mouth or zipping your mouth.

4. Ferme-la or boucle-la - Close your mouth

Ferme-la or boucle-la are alternatives to ferme ta gueule. The pronoun la is there to replace la bouche (mouth) or la gueule.

Boucle la comes from the verb boucler which means to close with a key. We will most likely say in French, boucle la porte which means close the door. So, boucle-la means literally closing your mouth just like "ferme ta bouche". However, you should use these two expressions with tact as it is kind of rude to say that.

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5. Chut! - The equivalent of the English shhh!

If you want to say gently to someone to stay quiet, without having to speak a lot, you can use the French onomatopoeia chut. Just the sound of it will make the person stop speaking unless you are dealing for instance with naughty kids. Note that saying Chut is not that rude.

6. Tiens ta langue - hold your month (refrain from speaking)

La langue or the tongue is the body part used to speak. When someone tells you tiens ta langue, it means in a French context, to hold your mouth or refrain from speaking. There is even this common idiom that uses this expression: "savoir tenir sa langue". "Ne pas avoir la langue dans sa poche" is also another way of saying that someone speaks a lot and may not be able to keep a secret.

7. Motus et bouche cousue

Bouche cousue is an idiom from the 15th century that can be translated as "sewn mouth'.

The word motus is not actually a Latin word as a lot of people might think but a funny transformation of the word mot according to La Langue française by Le figaro. Motus has been used alone and meant "chut! pas un mot" => Shhh not a single word! It was used since the 16th century.

The combined expression Motus et bouche cousue is more recent and is mostly used when you don't want someone to say something and usually, you will say it while whispering. For instance, if you are planning a surprise and you want it to be kept secret, you can just say motus et bouche cousue and French people will understand that you want some discretion.

To wrap it up

Now, you have more alternatives to say shut up in French and it's time to try using them whenever it is possible.

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