Shut the hell/heck up

Discussion in 'English Only' started by net, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. net Senior Member

    I'd like to know the difference between the phrase "shut the hell up" and "shut the heck up", and also the difference between "hell" and "heck" if you don't mind.
  2. difficult cuss Senior Member

    English England
    I understand that using "heck" is simply a way of avoiding using "hell".
  3. Lora44 Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK
    England, English
    Yeah I would say it's milder than 'hell'. says it's a euphemism for hell :)
  4. maxiogee Banned

    In British English the intensifier would usually be a different four-letter word ending in ~ck. The use of "the hell" and "the heck" is generally confined to "What the hell?" and "... for the hell of it."
  5. jennijenni

    jennijenni Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida, USA
    American English (AE) / USA
    We do say "shut the hell up" in the US but I only rarely hear "shut the heck up." If you want to avoid using "hell," you would simply say "shut up." Yes, we do also say "shut the f**k up." That's very vulgar here.

    There is an interjection here "Shut up!" that means, "no way" or "get out of here" or "wow, that's amazing." For example, if someone said, "I just won the lottery." You might say, "Shut up!" to express your surprise. In this sense, "shut up" could convey a subtle bit of jealousy and slight negative emotions.

    To tell someone to "shut up" is considered to be rude in the U.S, unless you're using it as an interjection as I mentioned in the last paragraph. In other words, if a mother heard her child say "shut up" as a way to silence someone, she would scold the child. If you said "shut up" to your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse as a way of demanding that the other person stop talking, that person would be very angry with you!
  6. Ginnungagap New Member

    Hell is considered a taboo word in the english language, because of it's Biblical (Christian) association with the place Hell. Therefore, Christian minded people created a fake word (heck) to use in place of the old one (hell).

    In that sense, saying "Shut the heck up!" does not have the emotional impact of "Shut the hell up!", and even worse would be "Shut the fuck up!" The later two you wouldn't say to someone you didn't know, and the last one you probably wouldn't say to people you knew regardless of how close you are. Depends on your friends. I say it to mine, though I would never saythe last two to anyone in my family unless I was really upset.
  7. mplsray Senior Member

    The name for this particular sort of euphemism is minced oath. It occurs in other languages as well. The old-fashioned French interjection parbleu, for example, is a minced form of pardieu, earlier par Dieu ("by God").
  8. maxiogee Banned

    Pardon my liberty with your words but I think it is important

    Hell is considered a taboo word in certain sections of the global mass of speakers of the english language, because of it's Biblical (Christian) association with the place Hell. Therefore, Christian minded people created a fake word (heck) to use in place of the old one (hell).​

    "Hell" is very definitely not taboo in many areas.
    My late father was a staunch Catholic who had no problem with the word hell.
    Newspapers here, in my childhood, had no problem using the word in headlines to articles.
    I feel Britons would report much the same.
  9. net Senior Member

    Thank you all very much for the explanations.
    Now I have a question, in particular for jennijenni who mentioned it: so if "shut up" is considered rude in the US, how do you make somebody be quiet in a kinder way? Something like "Please, I need silence", "Be quiet", etc.?
  10. pyan

    pyan Senior Member

    Vendée, France
    English, UK, London
    "Please be quiet" or "Be quiet, please."
  11. Ginnungagap New Member

    To be fair, British english isn't real english ;d.

    Still, wouldn't it be impolite for a younger person to use hell in front of or to an older preson? You certainly wouldn't use that language with the queen or in church, I imagine.
  12. maxiogee Banned

    Maybe not, but Hiberno-English is! :D

    There's a big difference between a word being 'taboo' and not being suitable for use in church or with a queen of somewhere.
  13. winklepicker

    winklepicker Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Maybe not, but on this side of the pond we preserve the capital E...
  14. gemzill

    gemzill New Member

    Hong Kong
    Come From: Britain/Hong Kong, Speak: English
    They both have the same meaning, as in 'be quiet', except 'shut the hell up' would be considered more of an offensive phrase, since the word 'heck' is to replace the word 'hell'. Don't ask me why. It's just like that. Also, 'shut the hell up' could be aggresive depending on the tone.

    So unless you are trying to show someone that you really don't want to talk/discuss it would be more preferable to people if you used 'heck' as it comes off as less aggresive and offensive (but none the less the two words, 'shut' and 'up', would be quite aggresive) or just 'be quiet' with a 'please' to be polite. 'Shut' and 'up' would be considered rude, unless said with close friends in a jokey way.
  15. Amatus Member

    UK English
    According to The British Dictionary, c.1933, heck means "n. a kind of fish-net or gin; a rack for holding fodder for cattle; a bend in a stream; the latch of a door [D. hek, gate]".

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