7 Ways to Tell Someone to Shut Up In Chinese

man shouting shut up to his girlfriend

Have you ever been in a situation where you just wanted to scream the words “SHUT UP!” at the top of your lungs? Whether it’s that nosy relative inquiring about your love life or a pesky salesman trying to sell you something, it’s a good idea to know how to fend off unwanted comments.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t take subtle hints. Sometimes, you need to take a deep breath and say the words: shut up. On the bright side, Chinese people have perfected the craft of telling others to shut their pie holes in various ways.

So, if you’re interested in learning how to tell someone to shut up in Chinese, we’ve prepared a list of phrases that will come in handy in just about any situation.

1. 住口 – Zhùkǒu

The phrase 住口 zhùkǒu is a textbook example of the English “Shut up.” It consists of two Chinese characters: 住 zhù, which means “to cease,” and 口 kǒu, which means “mouth.” Put the two together and get a very effective “Shut your mouth.”

As you might have guessed, telling someone to hold their tongue in such a snippy way isn’t exactly appropriate in every situation. Although not rude per se, 住口 zhùkǒu certainly falls into one of those “use with caution” Chinese words.

For instance, if two of your Chinese friends keep bickering about something ridiculous, you’d be within your right to interject with the words: 你们两个能不能都住口?! nǐmen liǎnggè néng bù néng dōu zhùkǒu?!

There are two possible outcomes: either they will shut up because you told them so, or they will shut up because they’ll be shocked by your Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. Either way—you win!

woman covering her ears while two people are arguing

2. 住嘴 – Zhùzuǐ

Trivia time! How many variations of the English “shut up” can you come up with off the top of your head? Go ahead. We’ll wait!

Done? Be quiet, stop talking, shut the hell up, and button your lips. Good job! Now, let’s try the same thing in Mandarin Chinese! Believe it or not, Chinese is just as versatile as English, especially when it comes to slightly inappropriate language.

The perfect example of this is 住嘴 zhùzuǐ which is the copy-paste version of 住口 zhùkǒu. These expressions have the same meaning and share the same characters (and no, we’re not just talking about 住 zhù.)

But how can this be? 口 kǒu and 嘴 zuǐ look nothing alike, right? Correct, but both words hold the same meaning—mouth. If you look closely, you’ll notice that 口 kǒu appears as a component character in 嘴 zuǐ.

That’s why 住口 zhùkǒu and 住嘴 zhùzuǐ can be used interchangeably to express the same sentiment. In other words, you could say that these two Chinese expressions are synonyms.

woman covering her mouth

3. 闭嘴 – Bìzuǐ

Quite possibly, the most common way to tell someone to shut up in Chinese is to use 闭 嘴 bìzuǐ. Once again, we encounter the character 嘴 zuǐ, only this time paired with 闭 , which means to shut. If you put two and two together, you’ll get the purest form of “shut up” in the Chinese language.

You’ll encounter this in everyday situations, especially in spoken Chinese. It’s the classic “zip it” we’ve all needed at one point.

Word of caution: 闭 嘴 bìzuǐ is undeniably considered rude in China, so we would recommend using it prudently. It’s best to play it safe when using sensitive language, especially if you are still unfamiliar with the culture and its people.

While you could probably get away with most of these terms with close friends, it’s important to read the room and shut up when needed. In English, it is easy to slip up and say something stupid, even if you are kidding. Likewise, when using words in a foreign language like Chinese, it’s essential to be extra careful to avoid accidentally offending someone.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid using potentially sensitive words in other languages you are not as familiar with. The best move would be to search for words you are interested in and to ask your Chinese friends to correct you if needed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—that’s one of the best ways to learn languages!

guy covering his ears with pillow

4. 闭上嘴巴 – Bìshangzuǐbā

Want to take things to the next level? You can easily do that with 闭上嘴巴 bìshangzuǐbā. This expression is pretty much just 闭 嘴 bìzuǐ with extra steps. It’s just as rude, but since it’s a bit longer, you’ll sound more threatening while yelling it at some unsuspecting loudmouths.

It’s not as offensive as some other phrases on this list, but 闭上嘴巴 bìshangzuǐbā isn’t exactly considered tame either. It falls in the golden middle of shut-up expressions and should be used cautiously.

On the plus side, using this instead of the basic 闭 嘴 bìzuǐ will surely earn you some brownie points for language proficiency. If you are trying to learn Chinese words and improve your vocabulary, starting with some basic sentences like this would be best.

The next step is to jump on your computer, open YouTube, and watch a video about Chinese words, letters, and pinyin. Another good idea is to write down these words and sentences in Chinese and English so you can have a handy little guide to help you search for the ultimate shut-up comeback.

businessman arguing with colleagues

5. 不要吵 – Bùyào chǎo

If you are looking for a more sensible way to tell someone to shut up in Chinese, then you’d be wise to consider this sentence. 不要吵 bùyào chǎo or 别吵 bié chǎo are common ways to tell someone to keep the noise down. The expressions are civil and appropriate in just about any setting.

You’ll often hear one of these variants used by parents trying to shush their children or a teacher trying to maintain order in the class. If you are teaching Chinese, English, or any other language, you’ll find that these sentences will be of tremendous help.

Interestingly, the Chinese word 吵 chǎo has a dual meaning: it can either stand for noise or refer to a quarrel. With that in mind, you can freely use this in multiple situations to tell someone to keep quiet or to break up an argument.

child screaming in the supermarket

6. 请安静 – Qǐnɡ ānjìnɡ

Another one in line of polite shut-up expressions, 请安静 qǐnɡ ānjìnɡ is ideal for classroom settings, busy meetings, and family gatherings. As an adjective 安静 ānjìnɡ means quiet, peaceful, silent, and calm; however, when used as a verb, 安静 ānjìnɡ takes on the role of “Quiet down!”

The preceding 请 qǐnɡ, meaning please, acts as another buffer to maintain politeness. But, of course, there are ways to make this a bit more strict. So, if you are looking to get your point across, ditch the 请 qǐnɡ and add 保持 bǎochí (keep, maintain) instead.

The newly-formed phrase would look something like this: 保持安静 bǎochí ānjìng and would translate to a very sharp and effective “Silence!” Using these Chinese words might make you seem a bit angry to others, but you’ll find that many of these things depend on the context and the way you express yourself.

This is true for other languages as well and not just Chinese. The key here is to understand the context behind the sentence first and then choose an appropriate delivery. If you choose a light tone while saying these sentences, many people might get the impression that you’re kidding instead of scolding them. It’s not just about choosing the correct words; it depends on how you use them.

teacher disciplining students

7. 少废话 – Shǎo fèihuà

We’ve prepared a special treat for those who don’t like to beat around the bush. This one is reserved only for those extreme situations when you need the other person to shut up or else. 少废话 shǎo fèihuà is not one of those things you’d hear in civilized conversation. Instead, you would use it in a heated argument or with someone you feel comfortable around.

The reason for this is quite simple—废话 fèihuà in the Chinese language translates to “rubbish” or “nonsense.” So, paired with 少 shǎo (less, stop, quit), you get a pretty basic “Cut the crap!”

This phrase isn’t child-friendly, elderly-friendly, or people-friendly for obvious reasons. But, on the other hand, it is pretty effective and will surely get the other person to, you know, stop talking nonsense. For your safety, though, use it sparingly and only when you have no other choice.

There you have it—seven distinct ways to tell someone to shut up in Chinese. Isn’t learning a new language a beautiful thing? Now you are well-equipped to tell people to shut up, keep quiet, stop talking, pipe down, clam up, and put a sock in it in Mandarin Chinese.

Before using any of these phrases, it would be wise to read the room, know your audience, and assess your surroundings. It would NOT be wise to use 少废话 shǎo fèihuà with your boss, for example. Unless you want to be on the first train to Unemployment Town, that is.

Are you ready to go out in the world and tell people to shut up?