“Shut up” in Japanese – Asking Someone to be Silent

It’s common to hear “shut up” in Japanese shows, but a simple phrase like “shut up” can actually be quite complicated. Just think of all the ways there are to say this in English: “be quiet,” “please keep your voice down,” “shut your mouth,” etc.

girl with one finger up in front of her lips with a speech bubble that says shut up

Like other languages, there are various ways to express the command “shut up” in Japanese. Each has its level of politeness and severity. Using the wrong one in a particular situation can make you seem like an unpleasant person. Let’s go through some of them from most severe to least severe.

How to say “Shut up” in Japanese

だまれ (damare) is the strongest way to tell someone to shut up in Japanese. It is a form of the Japanese word だまる(damaru), which means to stop talking. This is a strong word that is only used when someone is quite angry, and probably not something you should say until you are more comfortable with Japanese.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
黙れだまれdamareshut up

However, being a foreigner, you may hear it if you’re being loud on the train or encountering a peeved person, so it’s good to be aware of. If a person says this to you, it’s the equivalent of screaming, “shut up!” in Japanese, meaning they want you to be quiet.

Note: Using だまれ (damare) to tell someone to shut up in Japanese is rude. So be careful about who you use this.

Polite version of “shut up” in Japanese

だまってください (damatte kudasai) is another form of the same word, with the addition of ください (kudasai) to make it more like a polite request.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
黙って下さいだまってくださいdamatte kudasaiplease shut up

It’s more in the realm of “do shut up” or “shut your mouth,” and while it’s more polite than だまれ (damare), it can still get you in trouble, so make sure not to use this around elders you don’t know, and probably wait until you’ve heard a close friend say it before using it with them.

Telling a group of students or subordinates to be quiet in Japanese

Again, this is a form of だまる(damaru), but this is only used by a person in a position of authority, like a boss, parent, or teachers. It will probably be used to quiet down a room of individuals and won’t be said to you personally, and isn’t as offensive as だまる (damaru).

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
黙りなさいだまりなさいdamarinasaiquiet down

Teachers use this when the class gets a little too noisy. They use it in a tone that they don’t sound angry, so the class would almost immediately go silent.

Telling someone to quiet down in Japanese

うるさい (urusai) means “loud” and can be said as an exclamation regarding the volume of a situation (like a concert) instead of the content of what a person is saying.

You might say うるさいよ! (urusai yo!) if someone is talking about a subject, you’re embarrassed about and you don’t want others to hear or if someone is talking excessively. It can still be rude, so it isn’t good to say it around someone you don’t know.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation

There is still another form, which is うるさいやろう (urusai yarou). You do not want to say this; it is pretty aggressive and considered rude. If someone says this to you on the subway, it’s best to avoid them.

One nice thing about all these phrases is that they are exclamations. You can shout, urusai yo! or damarinasai! without needing extra words, so they are easy to memorize and employ.

Asking someone to be quiet in Japanese

The word しずか (shizuka) means quiet, and the differences between these phrases are in when they are used.

Shizuka ni is for when you want someone to do something quietly, like entering a house while someone is sleeping. Shizuka ni shiro is a command, like a parent telling a child to be quiet. Shizuka ni shite is when you are more equal with the person you’re talking to. These are all rather fast orders, but if you want to be more polite, there are longer phrases to learn.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
静かにしずかにshizuka niquietly!
静かにしてしずかにしてshizuka ni shitebe quiet!
静かにしろしずかにしろshizuka ni shiroquiet!

“Please be quiet” in Japanese

At first glance, these appear quite similar, and they are. The thing to know is that adding “o” at the beginning of a Japanese word and using “onegaishimasu” is more polite than “kudasai.” As it’s the most polite way, the second phrase is likely what you might hear from a theater usher or another employee speaking to a customer.

HiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
しずかにしてくださいshizuka ni shite kudasaiplease be quiet
おしずかにおねがいしますo shizuka ni onegaishimasuquiet, please

Asking someone to keep their voice down in Japan

These are even more polite phrases that you probably won’t need to say but may hear when out and about. The important thing to understand is that regardless of the form, if the phrase しずかにして (shizuka ni shite) is involved, you’re being asked to speak more quietly or not at all.

HiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
しずかにしていただけますかshizuka ni shite itadakemasu ka?could you keep it down?
しずかにしていただいてもいいですかshizuka ni shite itadaite mo ii desu ka?would you please keep it down?

Requesting silence in formal situations

せいしゅくにおねがいします (seishuku ni onegaishimasu) is a formal way of requesting silence and is often used to announce the start of a conference presentation. Because the Japanese words are slightly different, you may not recognize them as easily as shizuka ni, so this is a good one to memorize for business situations.

HiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
せいしゅくにおねがいしますseishuku ni onegaishimasuquiet down, please

Keeping secrets with your Japanese friends

We tend to share our secrets with our close family members and friends, don’t we? However, there’s always that one friend who has a habit of being a little too loud when it comes to keeping secrets (sometimes just to tease you). Below are some ways to ask your Japanese friend to keep your secret.

“Zip it” in Japanese

Like in America, telling someone to “zip it” in Japan can mean that they should be silent or shouldn’t mention a certain subject, which is useful for children.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
お口にチャックおくちにちゃっくokuchi ni chakkuzip it

Another phrase is くちをつぐめ (kuchi o tsugume), which is a more forceful way to tell someone to keep their mouth shut and is useful in situations where someone (a child or friend) is speaking out of turn and may get in trouble.

“Shh” in Japanese

Like the English “shh,” even children will know this. And like in English, this is a way to say “don’t tell anyone” or a command to stop talking if a person is being loud in a public place.

HiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation

Is it getting noisy? You can put your finger to your lips as you do in other cultures and give a quiet “shii” to get the message across.

“Stop” in Japanese

This is more a phrase for someone who has brought up a subject that you find embarrassing or don’t want to discuss. In America, it might not be rude to say “shut up!” in this situation, depending on who you are with. This phrase is like that for Japanese people.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation

“Shut up” in Japanese anime and manga

You’ve probably heard or read how they say shut up in Japanese comics. Let’s take a shounen anime for example. The main character and the antagonist are facing their last battle. You hear the main character say だまれ (damare) or うるせー (urusee) before going in for the final hit. Ahhh!

Admit it. You also try to pronounce it the way the main character literally said it. The same goes when you’re reading a manga. You try to express how the characters convey their feeling of annoyance.

Expressing annoyance in Japanese

This is a more old-fashioned way to let someone know they are being too loud or to stop talking and is less threatening than some of the above phrases. It can also mean “annoying” in the way we might say the English word “shut up” to someone when they’re getting on our nerves.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
喧しいやかましいyakamashiistop talking!

“Shut up” in Kyushu, Japan

Telling someone to shut up in the Japanese language also depends on your location. せからしい (sekarashii) is a regional way to tell someone they’re being too loud. If you’re in Tokyo, you’re not likely to hear this word, but it is more common in Kyushu.

Different parts of Japan have different language uses, just like in America or England. If you plan to be in Kyushu, this is one thing to be aware of, though you won’t need to say it yourself.

With the possible exception of うるさい (urusai), there’s not much reason for you to say any of the above as you’re a beginner, and the nuances of which phrase to choose can be tough.

It’s more important to know those words in case they are said to you if you violate someone’s idea of proper etiquette. The following phrases are less severe and are a little safer to use in mixed company.

HiraganaRomajiEnglish Translation
せからしいsekarashiiquiet down!

When to use these phrases

For English speakers, the trickiest part about these phrases is not memorizing them but knowing when to use each one. While there are some guidelines here, the choice will vary based on what part of the country you are in, the ages of the people you’re speaking to, and the power dynamics (employee/employer, customer/clerk, parent/child, etc.).

It’s best to listen to those around you and see which they use before plunging in so you can assimilate with the people you spend the most time with. No matter who you say this to, close friends, or someone you barely know, it’s always best to be careful and keep calm in any situation.

Wrap Up

Telling someone to shut up in Japanese can come off as strong. We don’t want to be labeled rude. One good example would be avoiding making noise, especially on public transportation. Blurting these words is one thing, how you sound or the tone of your voice is another.

The Japanese people are very respectful. You won’t hear these phrases often if you’re as respectful as them. But learning how to say “shut up” in Japanese could come in handy one day. We hope you won’t have to use or hear this phrase in serious situations!

がんばってください (Ganbatte kudasai)! ^^

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