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How to Say ‘Shut Up’ in Japanese | 10 Polite or Firm Phases
Let’s be honest – we’ve all wanted to say it at one point or another. Saying ‘shut up’ to someone is never a phrase we would like to be uttering, but sometimes it is necessary!
For all those wanting to move and study in Japan, there may be occasions when you’d like to have the linguistic flexibility to tell someone to ‘shut up’. Of course, you may also like to know how to jokingly tell your friends or acquaintances the same thing.
So, for those wanting to shut down a conversation, or those simply wishing to expand their Japanese vocabulary, this handy guide will teach you 10 different ways to say ‘shut up’ in Japanese, ranging from polite to firm tones.
We’ve also included a guide to when you would be likely to use the phrase in question, so as not to lead you into any uncomfortable situations. After all, with words as explosive as ‘shut up’, you want to be sure you are using them in the right context.
So, without further ado, let’s explore how to say ‘shut up’ in Japan!
10+ ways to say ‘shut up’ in Japanese
1. 静かにしてください (shizuka ni shite kudasai) – ‘Please Be Quiet’
First on our list of ways to say ‘shut up’ in Japanese is the phrase 静かにしてください (shizuka ni shite kudasai), which in English means ‘please be quiet’.
Typically, this is a fairly polite way to ask someone to tone down the volume. It is not overly aggressive, yet it conveys a sense of firmness – the speaker usually is referring to the fact that the other person is being too loud in the context of their surroundings.
Common situations where this phrase may be used include in libraries, museums or in other generally quiet places.
It can be used in various situations, such as when you’re in a library, museum, or during a performance. For example, if someone is talking loudly on their phone in a library, you can use this phrase to politely ask them to be quiet.
2. お静かに (o-shizuka ni) – ‘Quiet Please’
Similar to the previous phrase, ‘O-shizuka ni’, or ‘quiet please’ in English, is also a relatively polite way of saying shut up in Japanese. Just like its English usage, it conveys a formal sense of the need to be silent at a particular point.
You may hear this, for example, said on public transportation, if there is a need to make a general announcement about keeping noise levels low. This may be used by flight attendants to remind customers to be quiet while an important safety announcement is made.
While this is a polite way of telling someone to quieten down, it’s not necessarily something that you would use in the company of close friends or acquaintances.
On the subject of things you’d say in the company of close friends, check out our guide to 21+ ways to say ‘I love you’ in Japanese. It may help you to make amends with them after you’ve told them to shut up!
3. 黙って (damatte) – ‘Be Quiet’
We’ve all been there – you’re trying to get into the zone and finish something important, but you can’t concentrate fully due to another person being too distracting. If this situation occurs to you in Japan, you can use the phrase 黙って, which means ‘damatte’.
This is a direct, but still casual, way of telling someone to shut up, meaning it’s perfect for those situations when you want to be clear, but don’t want a confrontation. As mentioned, you may use this in libraries or in cinemas, if someone is being too loud during the showing of a film.
So, it’s a pretty versatile choice that you can use around friends and family as well as members of the general public. It’s certainly one that you should keep in mind for when the situation arises.
4. 黙れ (damare) – ‘Shut up’
If you’re after a little more forceful way to tell someone to shut up in Japanese, 黙れ (‘damare’) is the word for you. It’s worth bearing in mind this is a pretty nuclear option and could be considered rude or disrespectful. So, use with caution.
Usually, this phrase is only reserved for scenarios that involve confrontation. Perhaps, this might be when a person is saying something offensive, or causing a disturbance, causing the need for them to be reprimanded.
‘Damare’ should not be employed in situations where you are trying to be polite, or light-hearted. Typically, it is only used as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted.
5. うるさい (urusai) – ‘Shut up’ / ‘You’re noisy’
Just as ‘damare’ is a phrase that you’d want to use in only select circumstances, うるさい, or ‘urusai’, is another word you’d only employ sparingly. It is a common and direct way of telling someone that they’re being too noisy.
You may, for example, use this phrase if you were telling a sibling that they are being too loud. However, for people that you aren’t so comfortable with, ‘urusai’ will typically only be reserved for cases of particular offence or disturbance.
As with all ways of telling people to shut up in Japan, it is important to consider using ‘urusai’ in the context of the situation in which it is used. With such a direct statement, saying it in the wrong place at the wrong time could have unfortunate consequences.
6. 口をつぐんで (kuchi o tsugunde) – ‘Zip your lips’
On a more light-hearted note, 口をつぐんで (‘kuchi o tsugunde’) is one way you can tell friends and family shut up without coming across too directly. In English, it literally translates as ‘zip your lips’.
For example, if one of your friends or family is playfully joking with you, and they are perhaps getting on your nerves, you can fire back at them with this. It’s often a nice way to show that you are playing along, and are not getting too offended.
However, although you would use this quite often around people you know well, it’s not likely to be something you use around more casual acquaintances, or strangers.
7. 言ってることがくだらない (itteru koto ga kudaranai) – ‘What you’re saying is nonsense’
言ってることがくだらない, or ‘itteru koto ga kudaranai’, is another one of the top ways to say shut up in Japanese. This best translates in English to ‘what you’re saying is nonsense’, and, as such, it can be taken the wrong way if used incorrectly.
As the translation suggests, you’d only really use this phrase if you particularly disagreed with what someone is saying. For instance, this is often heard in fiery debates and in heated arguments of all kinds.
So, just as with the other firm ways we’ve listed of saying ‘shut up’ in Japanese, only use this in the right context. It can come across as disrespectful or insulting if you are in a more informal setting.
8. もう少し黙っててくれませんか (mou sukoshi damattete kuremasen ka) – ‘Could you please be quiet for a little longer?’
Our next method of saying shut up in Japan is a little more niche, but it still does the job at hand. We’re talking about the phrase: ‘mou sukoshi damattete kuremasen ka’ , which roughly translates to ‘could you please be quiet for a little longer?’
As this suggests, this is typically used for situations where you want someone to be quieter for an extended period of time. Compared to phrases like ‘damare’, it’s a more indirect or politer way of telling someone to quieten down.
A common example of usage here may be if someone persistently keeps trying to interrupt in a conversation, and you want to focus on what’s being said. It’s less likely to result in offence taken on behalf of the recipient.
9. 今は黙っていて (ima wa damatte ite) – ‘Stay quiet for now’
In situations where it is necessary for everyone to be completely silent, you may choose to use ‘ima wa damatte ite’, or ‘stay quiet for now’. This is a relatively direct way of telling everyone to be quiet, but it is less confrontational than some other phrases.
For instance, tour guides may often employ this phrase when they have to convey important information to visitors. Using this means that listeners will not miss crucial details that need to be passed on, which can prove very useful.
And, if you need to get someone’s attention in order to tell someone such important information, you’ll want to greet them first. Learn how to do this with our handy tips on how to say hello in Japanese.
10. しーっ (shii)
Last on our list of ways to say shut up in Japanese is ‘shii’. Unlike the rest of the phrases on this list, ‘shii’ is onomatopoeic, which means it is more of a sound than a word. As such, it can’t really be translated directly into English.
Typically, it is used in the same way ‘shush’ is in English, and it has the same effect. In other words, it is a very easy and straightforward method of reducing the amount of noise in a situation.
And, just like ‘shush’, ‘shii’ can be used in a playful and informal manner, so you may choose to employ it with friends or family if they are trying to tease you. As such, it is one of the more versatile ways of saying shut up in Japanese.
The last word on how to say ‘shut up’ in Japanese
That’s it for today’s guide. As we’ve seen, there are a great number of ways to say shut up in Japanese. From the formal and polite to the prompt and punchy, you now have an arsenal of options for quieting down unwanted noise.
Remember, however you say it, it’s important to consider the context in which you are saying ‘shut up’. It’s not a phrase you want to get wrong!
We hope that by learning these sayings and understanding when to use them, you can navigate social interactions more smoothly during your time in Japan.
If you’re a beginner to the Japanese language, and you’d like to learn more on how to begin your linguistic journey, explore our guide to how to start learning Japanese here.
Get in touch with us today for more help on Japanese social customs, careers and more.