Is Shut Up a Bad Word?
Saying “Shut up!” used to be simple. Decades ago, if you told somebody to shut up, the other person would either quiet down, cuss you out, or start throwing punches. Today, you might get told that saying “Shut up” is wrong, that it’s somehow inappropriate or mean or offensive. Somebody might even tell you that shut up is a bad word.
Maybe there’s something to that. I’d never say “Shut up” to a stranger. “Shut up” is something you say only to somebody you know. If you say “Shut up” to a stranger, you should be ready to get into a fight. I punch like a girl, so I never say “Shut up” to strangers.
Shut up might technically be a phrase instead of a word, but that’s a technicality most people don’t care about. If you add other words to shut up, however, then it becomes a phrase. Shut the f*** up is a phrase. Shut your mouth is a phrase. Shut your pie hole is a phrase. But shut up is considered a word, even if it really isn’t.
Shut up is not a cuss word like sh*t or f*ck. You can’t say sh*t or f*ck without offending somebody. Shut up involves more context. You can say “shut up” in a friendly way and people won’t care. Even if you say “sh*t” in a friendly way, somebody will be offended.
Shut up can escalate a conflict more quickly than profanity. Shut up often causes the person talking to get louder, to proclaim that he/she will NOT be silenced. Saying “Shut up” can cause another person to use profanity in response. Saying “shut up” can often backfire. Because of this, I don’t recommend saying “Shut up” in most situations.
In some ways, shut up might be the gateway word to profanity. A child who says “Shut up” may also learn to rely on profanity later in life because that person never developed the language and interpersonal skills to control emotions and use appropriate vocabulary. I have no proof to back that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.
My daughter has a teacher who tells her students to shut up a lot. At the beginning of the school year, the teacher started off as polite, but now she goes straight to “Shut up!” I had teachers who said “Shut up.” We knew at that point something bad would happen to us if we didn’t quiet down. After the teacher said “Shut up,” we’d get something like a detention or a zero on the assignment if we didn’t settle down. That “Shut up!” was a warning that the teacher had reached his/her breaking point.
I’d rather have a teacher tell me to shut up than have a teacher who gives detentions all the time. Maybe a teacher shouldn’t allow the class to get to the point of shut up, but ideally doesn’t work in reality. Kids need a warning, and “Shut up!” is as clear as it gets.
If a teacher says “Shut the f*ck up” as a warning, then there might be some issues.
Maybe teachers and parents shouldn’t say “Shut up,” but if you’re going to say “Shut up,” say it to a kid. Kids need to be taught that their opinions don’t mean as much as an adult’s opinion (It’s legally true because they can’t vote until they’re 18). Plus, kids talk too much and don’t usually respond to “Please be quiet” or “Maybe this isn’t the appropriate time to discuss this.” Some kids don’t respond to politeness and subtlety. Some kids need to be told to shut up.
Saying “shut up” is nothing new. The dictionary claims that the first known usage was in 1814. The dictionary didn’t say what the result of the first usage was though. I’d like to know if the person being told to shut up understood what he/she was being told to do. And once the person being told to shut up understood what was being said, how did that person respond? I guess I’ll never know. I can’t find a video of this conversation on YouTube, so maybe it didn’t really happen.
I’ve heard people say that telling somebody to shut up is mean and wrong, but telling somebody NOT to say “Shut up” is almost as bad as saying “Shut up.” I try to be careful when I use my shut ups, but I’d never tell somebody not to say shut up. It’s not my place in society to do that.
But if you’re the type of person who says “Shut up” and somebody ever tells you NOT to say “Shut up” because it’s mean or inappropriate, you have the perfect immediate built-in response:
If you’ve ever told anybody to shut up, you’ll probably like my ebook.