Where does shut up come from?
Back in the 1400s, shut up was a verb phrase meaning "to secure something away in a receptacle." By the 1500s, shut up had evolved to variously mean "confine someone," "close a door or window," or "bring to a conclusion."
In the early 1800s, we can find authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens more neutrally using shut up for "silencing someone." The verb had taken on rude tones by the 1820s. It's based on the idea of shutting one's mouth, an expression actually recorded in the 1300s.
By the 20th century, shut up, while widely used in all sorts of squabbles, had become considered a very childish, impolite, or angry-sounding command—depending on tone and context, of course. For instance, if a person was receiving praise they liked hearing but wanted to feign humility, they might, with a bat of the hand, bashfully say, "Oh, shut up."
In the late 1980s, Shut up! became a popular dramatic exclamation for "Get out of here!" or "I can't believe what you're telling me!"
We've also devised lots of ways to intensify shut up, including shut the hell up and shut the fuck up, found as the internet acronyms STHU and STFU in the early 2000s.
Who uses shut up?
In general, shut up is often seen as a disrespectful way to dismiss someone. This can range from someone making a distracting noise while you're trying to work to stopping people from going on and on about something to trying to silence them because they are voicing an objectionable opinion.
Rule of life:
If you cant say anything nice, please shut up. Your words reflecting you.
— Fazle (@ainafazlen95) May 27, 2018
Shut up appears in other more forceful phrases, such as sit down and shut up.
Maybe people would be better at standing up and talking if we hadn’t been told to sit down and shut up for the first quarter of our lives.
— Shower Thoughts (@TheWeirdWorld) May 21, 2018
The command shut up is often followed by another. This caused controversy in 2018 when far-right pundit Laura Ingraham told NBA star LeBron James to "shut up and dribble" rather than weigh in on politics.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 17, 2018
This shut up and X construction can be more playful, suggesting people stop whatever they are doing for something better, as seen in Rihanna's 2007 track "Shut Up and Drive."
In everyday speech and on social media, many people exclaim Shut up! when they want to convey intense excitement, as if to shout "I can't handle this!"
SHUT UP THE CHOKER THO AJSBJDJDNXKDN MENTAL BREAKDOWN DAY JUST START IT pic.twitter.com/AYhzGo5b5O
— tea | knj (@domjoonie) May 27, 2018
Shaddup is a humorous way of saying shut up, and hush/shush up is a milder variant.
I’ll take blame for things I didn’t do to get people to shut up faster.
@paprikapancake, May, 2018
Now I pray that Harry and Meghan can do on a nice honeymoon and rest and relax, and all of my relatives will just shut up about everything.
Thomas Markle quoted by TMZ, May, 2018
I love when I'm watching a nature documentary and my dog starts barking at the lions on the TV. / Shut up, Sal. You're scared of garbage bags. There ain't no way you're taking on a fucking lion.
@amazingatheist, April, 2018