Can 'close your mouth' mean 'shut your mouth'? I know that 'shut your mouth' is a rude way to say stop speaking. But I need to know whether 'close your mouth' can indirectly mean 'stop speaking' or not?

  • 4
    It could be, but it would have to be in a very specialized context--so it would not be common. In general, Close your mouth is for instructions from, say, a doctor, dentist, speech pathologist, etc., who in their line of work would probably avoid shut your mouth because of that phrase's special meaning.
    – user6951
    Oct 31, 2014 at 14:15
  • Yes, it can mean that in some contexts. -- The expression "close your mouth" can be used in many different contexts, and one of those contexts is the same one where it is more usual to use the expression "shut your mouth" or "shut up". For instance, I've heard mothers say that to their young children when in a public place, meaning for the child to be quiet, that is, to shut-up.
    – F.E.
    Nov 2, 2014 at 8:43
  • @F.E. does shut your mouth and shut up mean the same? I need you to compare between these three (- Shut up -) --- (- Shut your mouth -) --- (- Close your mouth -). For me they all mean the same, but (- Shut up -) is the most impolite and rude one, (- shut your mouth -) means like (- close your mouth -), but a little more harsh. Do you agree?
    – A-friend
    Nov 2, 2014 at 13:52
  • 1
    All three could be used in the same situation, one where the speaker means *"shut up!" But the other two longer versions can also be used in other, different, type of situations. And yes, you've basically got it right as to the difference in politeness and nuance between the 3 versions when they are used in a situation where they mean "shut up!"
    – F.E.
    Nov 2, 2014 at 18:38
  • 2
    An example of what @F.E.'s saying is, imagine you are at the dentist, the dentist wants to a print of the shape of your teeth! He tells you to open your mouth and puts a sheet of gum between your teeth and then says: "Please close your mouth". This does not mean shut up! Nov 3, 2014 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


Not at all.

Shut your mouth's first impression is stop speaking and close your mouth is asking a person to close his jaws. Say,

"Close your mouth fully when you gargle."

Also, close your mouth is opposite to open your mouth and the expression is often used by dentists or doctors. Obviously, using shut there won't be polite. Think opposite. When you want someone to stop speaking close your mouth makes no sense.

Note: Close your mouth is an idiom as well. It asks for this gesture -

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  • 1
    The only instance I can imagine using "close your mouth" to mean "stop speaking" would be if someone had already, possibly repeatedly, told me to stop talking, and I had not complied. I can imagine it spoken in anger in that sense, right before a child is punished or a man is punched. As Maulik V suggests, it is far more commonly used for its literal meaning. I told both of my children to close their mouths while chewing this afternoon, actually. Nov 1, 2014 at 23:19

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