I have a general question and then a specific one.

Can someone list four or five ways to say "shut up" or "be quiet" or "hush" in Italian, perhaps ranked from most common to least common? Or most polite to least polite?

I think "stai/sta' zitto" and "taci" (from tacere) fall into this category. I think I have also heard "piantate" or something close to that. (Sorry, I am a total novice.) And very slangy (amongst teenagers): "muto!"

Specific question:
In this short scene in Una Grande Famiglia Serie 1, Puntata 6 (here is another link), beginning at 14:42, does Nicoletta tell her brother, Stefano: "Taci!..."?

I think it's the second time I've heard Nicoletta saying this word (maybe both times to Stefano, poor guy). But, on the other hand, I have had more than one Italian tell me that "taci" is an "outdated" word, or one used in poetry (only?)....

In Le Nozze di Figaro it's used three or four times, including, Atto I, Scena I:

"Or bene: ascolta e taci!"

1 Answer 1


Here are some ways to say "Shut up":

  • Per piacere, fa'/faccia silenzio (the most polite one)
  • Silenzio!
  • Sta'/stia zitto
  • Taci!
  • Chiudi il becco!

To these expression we can also add the "shhhhhhhh" sound, while touching the tip of your nose with the index finger in vertical position. That can be found in many other languages/cultures. Perhaps you've heard "Piantala/piantatela" (cut it out), which doesn't exactly mean "Shut up".

"(Sta'/Devi stare) Muto!" means "Hush!" or "You've gotta shut up" in a very rude way.

I personally would not consider "Taci" as "outdated", but it is true, according to Google Ngram, that its use is slowly decreasing. We also must consider that the usage and frequency of words change across the country.

  • 4
    I would add that, as usual, the usage and the frequence probably change across the country. Personal opinion: Taci does have some kind of "poetic" tone to it. Apr 16, 2015 at 20:23
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    While not technically a "word", it's also possible (and quite common) to use the popular "shhhhhhhh" sound, while touching the tip of your nose with the index finger in vertical position. That's not unique to italian, of course, and can be found in many other languages/cultures.
    – persson
    Apr 16, 2015 at 21:15
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    There’s also “chiudi il becco” (‘shut your trap’), which is definitely impolite. I don’t think either that “taci” is outdated; maybe a little less common than the other options. That is perhaps due to the fact that this order is often given in a rude way, and implies a sort of “restraint of freedom”, so either you get straight to the point and say “zitto!” or “sugar the pill” with a polite, stiff, and wordy “la prego di fare silenzio”. Apr 16, 2015 at 21:31
  • Yes, I think it was piantala that I heard, and I heard it again in the same episode I ask about (or the next one), and the meaning "cut it out" makes great sense in the context. But, no takers on my specific question? (I think one has to have an Italian ISP address to access the video direct from the RAI site.)
    – pazzo
    Apr 17, 2015 at 7:00
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    @pazzo As for your specific question: yes, the female character really says “Taci!”. And no, it’s not outdated or limited to the poetic language, as it is used in a popular TV series and can be heard anywhere in everyday speech. It’s only slightly — “very slightly”, in my experience — less used than the other options that were listed above. Apr 17, 2015 at 7:33

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