In Reply to: Don't s h i t where you eat posted by ESC on March 05, 2009 at 13:13:
: : : : The saying goes, "don't s h i t where you eat." What does it mean and where does it come from?
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: : : I think it advises against affairs at work. A Yorkshire version is "Never s h i t on tha own doorstep". A politer version is "Don't make honey where you make money". I can't give you an origin for the phrase, but will have a little search if and when time allows. Or maybe the alternatives above will help others to help with this. A limited contribution, I'm afraid. (GC)
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: : At http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0707A&L=ads-l&P=8100 we have:
: : 'B. J. Whiting's _Modern Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings_ gives "Don't s h i t where you eat" from 1953, Bellow's _Adventures of Auggie March_. Variants of the image include "s h i t where you sit," "s h i t on your own doorstep," and the probably-euphemistic "be sick in one's own hat" (the last one, in Whiting's collection, from 1937). All are probably related to the much older conceit about fowls' not fouling their own nest.'
: : A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, by Eric Partridge, Paul Beale has:
: : 'Never s h i t where you eat! A semi-proverbial [admonition] against carrying on sexual intrigues at one's place of employment. A milder version is :don't buy your candy where you buy your groceries". Both from 1940s or earlier. And both US. The earthy Brit equivalent is "(you) don't (or never) s h i t on your own doorstep!
: : The Shorter Dictionary of Catch Phrases, by Rosalind Fergusson, Eric Partridge, Paul Beale has:
: : Don't s h i t on your own doorstep (,you). A warning against carrying on sexual intrigues at one's place of work, residence, etc. Late 19th-20th centuries. The US equivalent is "never s h i t where you eat".
: : (GC)
: Don't get your meat where you eat. And expanding on the theme: "But if you're gonna cheat on me don't cheat in our hometown."
My first reaction to this expression would be to think that it's admonishing one never to put the toilet in the kitchen. Actually, it resembles the admonition often given to cat-owners (of which I am one) never to put the litter-box too close to the food dishes.
I suppose you could find it analogous to the axiom, true or not, that hunters don't prey too close to home (to their nest or to their den). I first heard that in regard to eagles.
Or it could mean something like "Don't foul your own nest."
I've never heard this axiom or adage or admonition phrased or spoken this way. Why would anyone regard sexual intercourse as analogous to emptying one's bowels? I find both the concept and the form of expression repugnant in the extreme, and I wish it would go back to wherever it came from.