I understand that both are added to imperatives to add some tone to speech but it is not clear to me how different they are in tone. Is "gefälligst" mainly to show mild annoyance, even if you may not be really annoyed among friends?

Hey, entscheid dich gefälligst!

Hey, entscheid dich ruhig!

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    Compare also "Mach das gefälligst!" Which is very commanding and rude. Jul 6, 2019 at 11:11
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    The first expresses that I am very unhappy with you not having done it by yourself already. The second expresses that I do not have objections against you doing it. Jul 6, 2019 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


No. Unless used ironically,

  • gefälligst "expresses, as part of a command or an instruction the imperious-domineering attitude of the speaker"
  • ruhig "in sentences that contain a permission or a demand, expresses the benevolent attitude of the speaker vis-a-vis the addressee" and is used to signal that the speaker "does not object to the behaviour concerned."

(Definitions from Métrich/Faucher, Wörterbuch deutscher Partikeln, 2009, my translation)


  • Hey, entscheid dich gefälligst! is a rude way of telling someone to make up their mind. It implies urgency, and communicates the assumption that the other person has to obey your command (immediately).
  • Hey, entscheid dich ruhig! sounds somewhat strange (because people generally don't expect that they need to be given permission to "decide") but, aside from that, would indicate that the other person shall feel free to decide. Note that the particle generally implies that the action concerned is something the other person may be willing to do. Which also makes it prone to ironic use: Du könntest dich bei Tante Stefanie ruhig auch mal bedanken! (A passive-aggressive way of telling your child that it would be appropriate for her to thank aunt Stefanie.)
  • According to wiktionnary, gefälligst means "will you?" in a more or less angry request or order and ruhig is used to make a request more soft. Which agrees with your answer. I am just adding the links here because they can also be useful. Jul 6, 2019 at 8:28

Mach gefälligst die Tür zu!

Gefälligst ist use for rude commands. If you use it you probably assume that your social position in the given situation is above your counterpart's. Here perhaps: parents commanding a child. Could also be one colleague in an office barking to another.

Mach die Tür ruhig zu!

Ruhig is used to signal that you agree with your counterpart's planned activity - if he or she should take it, but it is eventually his or her decision. Typical situation would be: somebody in the office would like to close the door, goes to the door and grabs it, then looks around in the office to see if somebody reacts negatively. A friendly colleague could say: "Kein Problem, mach sie ruhig zu."

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    Verunlustigst, wie ich grad bin, dennoch der Hinweis, dass mir eine Ursache für die vermutete Verwirrung des OP im Sprachwandel gefälligst zu finden sei. Bsp: books.google.de/… Jul 6, 2019 at 18:29

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