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Can't tell s**t from Shinola

Posted by R. Berg on May 15, 2001

In Reply to: The guy can't tell s**t from chanola? posted by M. Mazzucco on May 15, 2001

: Is this an expression I just "think" I picked up (while flipping channels), or does it exist /have some kind of history behind?
: If so, is it "archaic," out-of-fashion, not as current -- your comment here?
: Thanks

The last word is Shinola, a brand of shoe polish. Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases" quotes a correspondent, writing in 1977, who said that Shinola had been the standard-issue boot polish in the U.S. Armed Forces, where the phrase originated (before 1930), and that the phrase was obsolete. I'm not so sure it's obsolete.