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Hitting the fan

Posted by R. Berg on December 01, 2002

In Reply to: Re: All about sh*t posted by Ray Farnsworth on December 01, 2002

: In a serious query about the origins of the afore mentioned word.. The question arose ..."where did the phase-Sh*t hits the fan " come from...the best so far found refers to the 1930's but give no definition...any one with a good answer?

From Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British":
Leechman says that it is 'a catch phrase indicative of grave or exciting consequences': Can. and U.S: since c. 1930. . . . Dr Leechman adds that 'the allusion is to the consequences of throwing this material into an electric fan'. But the orig. ref., as Norman Franklin reminds me, 1976, is to the agricultural muck-spreader. . . .
Wentworth & Flexner ["A Dictionary of American Slang"] cite an anecdotal origin [remembered independently by Robert Claiborne, Prof. Anthony Brown, and Paul Beale, covering mid 1930s - mid '50s], which is perhaps valid: a guest, unable to find the w.c., uses a hole in the bathroom floor and on rejoining the party, is asked, 'Where were you when the shit hit the fan?'