Sometimes you just need to tell someone to just shut up! If you’re just starting to learn Spanish, learning how to say shut up in Spanish will certainly come in handy.
Mind you, shut up can be used in an aggressive and combative way, but it can also be used in a playful, conversational way. The exact expression will change depending on the message you want to convey.
In this article, we’ll cover six of the most common ways to say shut up in Spanish so that the next time you need to say it, you will leave them speechless with your flawless Spanish-speaking skills.
Shut Up in Spanish at a Glance
All the Ways to Say Shut Up in Spanish
If you ask a Spanish speaker how to say ‘shut up’ in Spanish, they’ll most likely say cállate , because it is the most common or standard way. However, cállate isn’t that straightforward.
Cállate is an imperative form, or an order/command. The te in cállate signifies “you”, in the singular form. So you would only use this command when you’re speaking with a single person.
If you want to say shut up in Spanish to a group of people, you would just have to change this word slightly. If you’re in Spain, you would say callaos but if you’re in Latin America, you would say cállense.
Note: While in English, “shut up” is almost always rude or aggressive, cállate in Spanish isn’t always a rude thing to say, though it definitely can be used in a rude way. It all depends on the tone and context.
Another way to say ‘shut up’ in Spanish is with the phrase Cállate la boca , which can be literally translated as ‘shut your mouth.’ It is similar to cállate because you should also conjugate the last part of the verb depending on who and how many people you are talking to.
|You (singular informal)
|cállate la boca
|You (singular formal)
|cállese la boca
|callaos la boca, or cállense la boca.
This phrase is extremely casual and informal and isn’t something you would use with someone you don’t know well or with someone in a position of authority, such as your professor for example.
However, it isn’t always used in a way that is demeaning or rude. It is usually used in a playful way, usually with friends and family. However, depending on the tone and the circumstance, you can also use this phrase to express disbelief. For example, we can say,
¿En serio tienes 60 años? No te creo, ¡cállate la boca!
You are really 60? I can’t believe it, shut your mouth!
Cierra la boca is another way to say ‘shut up’. This form is also very informal and you’ll hear it often. It literally means ‘close your mouth’ or ‘shut your mouth’. This is an aggressive expression, so is not one you’d use with elders or people with authority.
Just like with cállate, cierra la boca is is also an imperative command or order. We can actually also use the phrase cierra el pico which literally means ‘close your beak’ in the same way as cierra la boca.
Silencio is a much more respectful way and formal way of saying “shut up” in Spanish. Silencio literally means “silence” and can be used on its own, as a noun, to ask someone to be quiet.
Fortunately, since silencio is a noun, you don’t need to conjugate it or use a different word depending on who you are talking to, you always say silencio.
It is usually used in classrooms and different kinds of meetings because it is a polite expression. But it can also be used in other polite contexts. For example, in tennis matches, the umpire asks people to be quiet by saying Silencio, por favor (‘Silence, please’).
Note that silencio is usually accompanied with por favor, so that it is a request instead of a command, unlike the phrases we’ve seen before.
In some countries, a classroom can be a bit more informal than a tennis match, and a teacher can ask kids to be quiet by saying something like:
Estamos en examen, chicos. Silencio.
We’re in the middle of an exam, kids. Silence.
Similar to silencio is guarda silencio . In this case, the phrase could be literally translated as ‘stay quiet’ or ‘be quiet’. It is even more formal and polite than silencio on its own and, as such, it’s used in formal settings.
The most informal way of saying ‘shut up’ in this list is definitely chitón . It is an expression that means something like ‘shush’ and is very common in many Spanish-speaking countries, but not in all of them. It’s something you’d use very casually with friends or close relatives.
An example of this expression in use, could be:
Chitón, Juana, que quiero escuchar la televisión
Shush, Juana, I want to hear the TV
Since this is an expression, you don’t need to conjugate it in person and number, you simply use the phrase chitón.
In English we also have a non-verbal way of asking people to shut up, which is by making the sound ‘shh’ and taking our index finger to our lips.
And, luckily, in Spanish, we can also use the same exact expression to ask people to be silent!
In this article we’ve seen different ways to say “shut up” in Spanish. From some informal ones, like chitón, cállate, and cierra la boca, to some more formal ones like silencio and guarda silencio.
Always keep in mind that our tone can make these phrases more aggressive, calm or playful, so we should always be mindful of how we use these phrases despite how formal or informal they are. Moreover, we can add por favor after every one of them to ask someone to “please, shut up”.