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Why Do Jamaicans Say Hush?

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jamaica_celebrations_ladies_waving_flagsWhy Do Jamaicans Say Hush?

by Kesha Stewart | Associate Writer

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In fact, for the word hush to become a rebuke, you would have to say things like, “Hush up yu mout!” This is usually said in an unmistakable tone of irritation or even anger. In this, the speaker is asking the other party(ies) to shut up.

The speaker can also not agree with what is being said so they may say, “Hush up, yu too lie.” Which translates into shut up you are a liar.

So Why Exactly Do Jamaicans Say Hush?

As a Show of Empathy

If you should be called upon to visit a family in mourning and you are wondering where to start, you can begin with the word “hush”. As someone who has no Jamaican connections, it may sound strange to your ears, as if you are saying “shut up” or “ it is pointless to cry over the loss of a loved one.”

However, to be truthful, in the Jamaican context a lot of what is conveyed is not in words being used. It is rather the tone that is important. If you say hush in a tone that conveys empathy you have struck the right cord.

A few well-placed scriptures related to hope for the resurrection such as ‘’ Revelation 21:4 which says, "He (God), will wipe away all tears from their eyes is a great addition. A hug can be added too and this even more deeply conveys the depth of your empathy."

To Comfort

To comfort someone who is crying, most likely a baby. If a baby is crying you are sure to hear someone being sent to “hush the baby”.

They are not saying go and make the baby shut up, no, what they are actually asking is that you give some comfort to the baby so that he/she will calm down and stop crying. You can also hush an adult in this context if he/she is crying.

To Console

Hush is also said as a way to console someone who is experiencing loss. There may be that moment when you are sharing a sad story with your Jamaican friend. Perhaps it is the end of a relationship or someone did you wrong and you just want to express your hurt. As you progress in your story your listener full of sympathy over your situation may say the words “hush.”

Immediately you feel ridiculed and withdraw yourself shutting down your feelings. Don't feel taken aback, your friend is right there with you. He/she is not making light of your situation. The word hush here is a way to let you know how much they regret that you have to be dealing with this difficult experience.

Hush can be used to commiserate when someone has lost a game, for instance, believe it or not even tough sportsmen and women are sometimes told to “hush”. They may have lost a regular match or an important championship. Hush in this case is a way to say better luck next time.

Hush is used in the event of an injury or accident. Firstly, the person who may have brought about the situation which led to the injury in the first place may apologize for causing it by saying .. you guessed it, “ hush”. You are expected to accept the same gracefully. The injury by the way may be physical or emotional.

On the other hand, someone who observes that you have been injured may feel compelled to tell you to “hush” and they may even hope that you will get well soon.

You could be in excruciating pain, suffering a great personal loss, just feeling down or perhaps somewhere in between but one thing is certain you will be told (in the most sympathetic way) to "hush.”

I'm going to ask that you do not let the words cause you to feel crushed or disregarded we have on the contrary just expressed a deep feeling of empathy and a wealth of love and understanding is conveyed in that one word.

The extent of which would lift your spirits. When a Jamaican say “hush” it is with the kindest of intent for the best outcome for you and to immediately let you know that “Hey I’m in your corner.”

I'm not going to tell you to try it in your situations but the next time you are in Jamaica, and you hear hush being used you can nod your head in understanding.

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References & Sources For Why Do Jamaicans Say Hush?

  1. (no date) Google search. Google. Available at: (Accessed: January 6, 2023).
  2. Clarke, D. (2021) 9 phrases only a Jamaican would understand, Available at:,facing%20a%20problem%20at%20work (Accessed: January 6, 2023).

Why Do Jamaicans Say Hush? | Written: January 7, 2023

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