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Re: All about sh*t

Posted by ESC on November 30, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Defecate, split off posted by James Briggs on November 29, 2002

: : : : : I am doing an English assignment on shit, I have heard a history of it meaning: Ship High In Transit. Does anyone know of any other meaning? Please get back to me soon as my project is due on Monday Dec.2, 2002. Thank you!!!!

: : : : There are folk derivations of various swearwords in the form of acronyms. For example, 'for unlawful carnal knowledge'. These are nonesense. Swearwords are just words like any others. For some reason, probably to do with coyness, some people prefer to invent spurious origins for them.

: : : : According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word comes from the Old English:

: : : : scite - dung and/or scitte - diarrhoa.

: : : I wonder if there's any connection to the Greek skatos, also meaning dung?

: : My OED traces it only as far back as Old Norse and Middle Low German. The American Heritage Dictionary, however, refers it to the Proto-Indo-European root "skei-," to cut, split, whose descendants include "science" and "conscious" (L. "scire," to know, from "to separate one thing from another," "discern") and "schedule" and "schizo-" (Gr. "skhizein," to split).

: It's "Scheiße" in German - very similar indeed.

SHIT - "From the Indo-European root 'skei,' 'to divide,' comes the Old English 'scitan,' 'to defecate,' that is the ancestor of our word 'shit.' 'To shit' thus means strictly to divide or cut (wastes) from the body. 'Shit,' as slang for nonsense or lies, is an Americanism probably first used by soldiers during the Civil War as a shortening of 'bullshit,' another Americanism that probably goes back 30 years or more earlier, though it is first recorded, in the form of its euphemism 'bull,' in about 1850." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

SHIT -- "Nonsense, lies, exaggeration, in wide use since the 1870s, probably first common among Civil War soldiers (perhaps as a shortening of bullshit.). 'Chicken shit' and 'horseshit,' both meaning lies, exaggeration, were first recorded in the 1930s." From "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).