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Shut vs. Close: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 2, 2023
"Shut" often implies a firmer action of closing, while "close" is more general and can imply proximity or ending something.

Key Differences

"Shut" is typically used to refer to closing something firmly or securely, like doors or windows. It often carries a sense of finality or completeness. "Close," on the other hand, is more versatile, used not only for the act of making something not open but also for describing proximity or the end of an event or period.
The word "shut" is commonly associated with a more forceful action. For example, "shutting a drawer" implies a certain level of force or decisiveness. "Close," however, can be used in a wider range of contexts, like "closing a deal" or "closing the gap," which go beyond the physical act of shutting.
In terms of connotation, "shut" can sometimes have a negative or abrupt implication, as in "shut down" or "shut out," suggesting exclusion or cessation. "Close," however, can convey a sense of completion or resolution, as in "close a chapter" or "close an argument," and is often used in more formal or professional contexts.
"Shut" is less likely to be used in abstract contexts. It is more concrete, relating primarily to physical actions. "Close," however, has a broader application, encompassing both physical and metaphorical uses, such as "close to the truth" or "close an account," which are not about physical closure.
The usage of "shut" and "close" can also differ in idiomatic expressions. "Shut" forms part of phrases like "shut up" or "shut off," which have specific meanings. "Close" is used in phrases like "close call" or "close quarters," which are more metaphorical and less about the literal action of closing.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Physical closing
Physical and metaphorical closing


Often forceful or final
More neutral, can imply completion


Mostly physical actions
Wide range, including abstract concepts

Idiomatic Usage

Specific phrases like "shut down"
Broader phrases like "close call"


Generally less formal
Used in both formal and informal contexts

Shut and Close Definitions


Shut refers to closing something firmly.
Please shut the door quietly.


Close implies completing an action or agreement.
He was close to finalizing the deal.


Shut often means ending or stopping something.
The company decided to shut the project down.


Close can refer to reducing the distance or gap.
She moved closer to hear better.


Shut implies sealing or securing an opening.
She shut the window to keep out the cold.


Close means to bring something to an end.
They decided to close the meeting early.


Shut is used in expressions that imply closure.
He told the noisy crowd to shut up.


Close is used for bringing parts together.
Close the book when you're finished reading.


Shut can mean preventing access or passage.
The road was shut due to construction.


Close can indicate proximity or nearness.
Her house is close to the school.


To move (a door or lid, for example) so as to block passage through an opening.


Being near in space or time. See Usage Note at redundancy.


To fasten with a lock, catch, or latch
Shut the cabinet.


Being near in relationship
Close relatives.


To block entrance to or exit from; close
Shut a corridor.


Can "shut" imply forcefulness?

Yes, it can suggest closing something with force, e.g., "shut the door loudly."

Is "shut" formal or informal?

It's neutral, suitable for both formal and informal contexts.

Can "shut" be used as an adjective?

Yes, e.g., "The door is shut."

Is "shut" transitive or intransitive?

It can be both, e.g., "She shut the door" (transitive) and "The door shut" (intransitive).

Is "close" formal or informal?

It's neutral and used in both contexts.

What does "shut" mean?

Shut means to close something, typically a door or window.

What does "close" mean?

Close means to bring something together or to stop an opening.

Can "close" be an adjective?

Yes, but with different meanings, e.g., "a close friend."

Can "shut" be used metaphorically?

Yes, e.g., "shut your mouth" means to stop talking.

Is "close" transitive or intransitive?

It's both, e.g., "He closed the book" (transitive) and "The store closes at 8" (intransitive).

What are other uses of "close"?

It can mean to conclude an event or activity, e.g., "close a meeting."

Does "close" have a sense of proximity?

As an adjective, yes, e.g., "close to the mark."

Is "shut" used in idioms?

Yes, e.g., "shut the front door" as an expression of disbelief.

Can "shut" imply finality?

Yes, it often suggests a definitive or firm closing.

Does "close" imply gentleness?

It can, often suggesting a softer action compared to "shut."

Does "shut" have other meanings?

Yes, it can mean to stop a business or activity, e.g., "The shop shut down."

What is a common synonym for "shut"?

"Close" is a common synonym.

Can "close" be used metaphorically?

Yes, e.g., "close a chapter in life" meaning to end a phase.

Are there idioms with "close"?

Yes, e.g., "close call" meaning a narrow escape.

What is a nuanced difference between "close" and "shut"?

"Close" is often softer or more general, while "shut" can imply more force or finality.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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