Before the twentieth century, the phrase "shut up" was rarely used as an imperative, and had a different meaning altogether. To say that someone was "shut up" meant that they were locked up, quarantined, or held prisoner. For example, several passages in the King James Version of the Bible instruct that if a priest determines that a person shows certain symptoms of illness, "then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days". This meaning was also used in the sense of closing something, such as a business, and it is also from this use that the longer phrase "shut up your mouth" likely originated.
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