What’s the best way to say “Shut up” in Spanish?
Will you ask someone to be quite like an angry mom who can’t stand her brad child anymore?
Or will you ask a person to be silent in a polite way like a librarian would do?
it will all depend on your tone, but you might also want to select your words carefully so you don’t give the wrong impression.
In this article, you’re going to learn 12 different expressions people use to say “shut up” in Spanish.
By the end of this post, you’ll be able to ask someone to shut his/her mouth with the correct words, and under the correct contexts
Let’s begin with…
This is the translation for “silence”, and people throw this word to ask someone to be silent.
If your tone is calm, then you probably want to add a “por favor” with this word.
Like if you were in the middle of a test in school, someone whispers something, and your teacher politely says:
- Silencio por favor, chicos: Silence, please, guys.
But, if your teacher is mad, and his tone is aggressive, he might say “shut up” in Spanish without a “por favor”, like this:
- ¡Silencio todo el mundo!: Silence everybody!
People might also combine this word with the verb “hacer” and “quedarse” to say a command to somebody, like this:
- Haga silencio: Silence
- Quédese en silencio: Stay silence.
If you give the command “cállate”, you’re ordering another person to shut up because of some emotional reason.
For instance, imagine you’re arguing with your significant other in a very dramatic and emotional way, and you just don’t want to keep talking, then you may say:
- Cállate, tus palabras me lastiman: Shut up, your words hurt me.
Can you see all the drama in that sentence?
Another example would be a person who’s revealing a secret of yours in front of someone who couldn’t know about it, that’s when you could say:
- Cállate, no digas eso: Shut up, don’t say that.
Yes, and useful at the same time.
#3 Cierra la boca
“Cierra la boca” is an expression that means “shut up” in Spanish.
It may sound very rude unless you’re joking with your friends and you’re pretending to be mean to them telling them to be silent.
The most accurate context in which you’ll hear this word is a conversation in which a person is really mad, and he wants the other one to stop talking, for example:
—¿Te divertiste con tus estúpidos amigos?—
Did you have fun with your stupid friends?
—Cierra la boca, no es asunto tuyo—
Shut up, it’s not your business.
#4 Cierra el pico
This is a little variation of the previous phrase.
Now, the word pico in this one, means beak… yes, like a bird beak.
So, if a native speaker uses this word on you, he’ll tell you that you talk too much (like a parrot), and you should shut your mouth up.
—Vender tu auto fue lo más estúpido que has hecho—
Selling your car was the most stupid thing you’ve done.
—Cierra el pico, estoy cansado de tus criticas—
Shut up, I’m sick of your criticism.
#5 ¡A callar!
Remember expression number 2, “cállate”?
This expression works exactly the same, but it’s mostly used by people from Spain, I’ve never heard it in South-América.
They use it as a command to shut someone up. For example:
—Tienes que regresar hoy mismo a casa—
You have to come back home today.
—¡A callar! Te he dicho que no voy a regresar—
Shut up. I’ve told you that I’m not going back
#6 ¿Por qué no te callas?
This question communicates sarcasm because, with it, you’re giving a “suggestion” for the other person to be silent.
If you say this phrase, you might also be implying that you’re wondering why the person whom you’re talking to isn’t quiet.
This phrase became very popular in South America when, in 2007, the king of Spain, Don Juan Carlos I, told president Hugo Chavez from Venezuela to shut up with this phrase at an important meeting.
Here’s an example of how someone would use it:
—No puedo creer que te guste Jessica. Estoy seguro que solo estás con ella por su dinero—
I can’t believe you like Jessica. I’m sure you’re with her just because of her money
—¿Por qué no te callas? Tú no sabes de lo que hablas—
Why aren’t you silent? You don’t know what you’re talking about.
#7 ¡Que te calles!
You know that feeling of desperation you get when you’ve been asking someone to shut up several times, but he keeps on talking?
That’s when you may throw this phrase.
This example will help you understand how to use this expression better:
—Te he dicho mil veces que no me gustan los perros. No quiero que traigas perros a mi casa—
I’ve told you a thousand times that I don’t like dogs. I don’t want you to bring dogs to my house.
—Cállate, no quiero que digas nada malo de mi perro—
Shut up, I don’t want you to say anything about my dog.
—Me dan asco los perros y no quiero animales aquí—
Dogs are disgusting, and I don’t want them here.
—¡Que te calles! No voy a dejar a mi perro en la calle—
Shut up, I’m not going to leave my dog out in the street.
Get it now?
I know that’s a great example for dog lovers, right?
No matter how many times someone tells you to take your dog out of the house, you won’t budge.
And if that person keeps on pressuring you, you’ll throw a “¡qué te calles!”
Spanish native speakers might not always express everything they want to communicate with words.
They may make noises or do some gestures to communicate ideas.
This is the case of this expression, which is just a way to tell you to speak softly or to shut up.
Here’s an example:
—¿Entonces, me ayudas en el examen o no?—
So, will you help me out with the test?
—Shhh… ahí viene el profesor—
Shut up, the teacher’s coming.
I’m not totally sure, but I think “chito” is a Colombian expression for “shut up” in Spanish.
I’ve never heard it in another country, but if you have, let me know in the comments at the bottom.
It’s the same as saying “shhh”, but this one is an actual word people say in Colombia.
Here’s an example phrase:
** Dog Barks **
— Chito, perro, vas a despertar a mi mamá—
Shut up dog, you’re going to wake up mom.
#10 No hables
This phrase means “don’t talk”, and of course, you may add a “por favor” and use a calm tone if you want to sound polite. Like this:
- No hables, por favor. No me siento bien para conversar ahora: Don’t talk, please. I’m not feeling good for having a conversation right now.
Now, if you’re tone is rude, you may sound very mean, like this:
—¡Limpia tu habitación ahora!—
Clean your room now!
—No hables mamá, estoy cansado de ti—
Don’t talk mom, I’m sick of you.
That’s a mean child right there, which you should not imitate in Spanish.
#11 Guarda silencio, por favor.
This is the most polite way I know to say “shut up” in Spanish, not because there’s a “por favor” in that sentence, but because “guarda silencio” sounds very formal itself.
This would be more like to be quiet in English, just because it sounds a little softer than shut up.
I’m sure you’d like to use this phrase if you have a child and you want to tell him to shut up in front of other people.
Here’s an example:
- Guarda silencio hijo, estoy en una reunión por zoom: Be quiet son, I’m on a zoom meeting.
#12 Morderse la lengua
Last, but not least, I want to introduce you to an idiom in Spanish people use when they want to avoid talking, but they’re craving to speak about a certain topic.
Related: ¿Qué son los modismos en español?
“Morderse la lengua” means to bite your tongue, like if you really want to say something, but you’re hurting your tongue for the sake of being quiet.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Cuando Mario me acusó de ladrón, yo me mordí la lengua para no insultarlo: When Mario accused me to be a thief, I was silent to avoid insulting him.
- Daniel debe estar mordiéndose la lengua para no decirle a Mónica que la ama: Daniel must be silent to avoid telling Mónica that he loves her.
- Me estaba mordiendo la lengua para no decirte la verdad, pero no aguanté: I was being silent to avoid telling you the truth, but I couldn’t hold it.
Which expression should you use to say “shut up” in Spanish?
It all depends on what you want to express and how rude or how polite you want to sound.
Telling you to pick a specific expression would be a little dogmatic for me, and I don’t want you to use a single phrase every single time you want to say “shut up”.
Because of that, I want to summarize this post with a list of all the sentences and phrases I just taught you, but indicating which phrases may sound rude or polite by just pronouncing them.
Always remember: a lot depends on your tone:
- Silencio (Polite)
- Cállate (Rude)
- Cierra la boca (Rude)
- Cierra el pico (Rude)
- ¡A callar! (Rude)
- ¿Por qué no te callas? (Rude)
- ¡Qué te calles! (Rude)
- Shhh (Depends too much on your tone)
- Chito (Rude)
- No hables (Rude)
- Guarda silencio (Polite)
- Morderse la lengua (Polite)
And there you go!
Today you’ve learned 12 different expressions to say “shut up” in Spanish.
Remember that context and tone are extremely important when you use these expressions.
And hey… I taught you those rude phrases just so you can understand them when native speakers talk fast and spontaneously.
My advice is to always be polite with foreigners, so use them wisely my young padawan!
By the way… If you want to keep improving your skills to understand Spanish native speakers, I’m sure my guide will be just what the doctor order for you.
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