Oh, hush!

When did "shut up!" become a synonym for "amazing!" or "I don’t believe it"?

"Shut up" has long been a strong and rather hostile rebuke. I always encouraged my children to avoid it … there were plenty of other ways to express their occasional annoyance with each other.

Now you hear "shut up!" everywhere … on television, from groups at a restaurant or coffee shop, in stores.

And it's not just young people doing it. I'd probably shrug that off as teen slang, something they'd outgrow with any luck.

The saddest part of this is that if you confront the people doing this—if you said, "I find it offensive when you tell me to shut up"—they would be surprised, say you were overreacting and that they weren't actually telling you to be quiet.

So maybe this expression is in the process of morphing. It has taken on new meaning, and over time the old meaning will drop away. In the meantime, it’s irritating, and makes me want to muzzle the offending speakers.

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