on - is where planning officers
distort the truth, or manufacture false information in the belief that
they will not get found out. Shit hitting the fan
- is where you fight back and give the true information to council
members, for them to confront their naughty
officers, or where you
expose a council fraud, or other con or scam, preferably to a court,
when you might obtain damages. Or, a modern matter where this saying is
popular is Brexit.
Shit on - is where planning officers distort the truth, or manufacture false information in the belief that they will not get found out.
Shit hitting the fan - is where you fight back and give the true information to council members, for them to confront their naughty officers, or where you expose a council fraud, or other con or scam, preferably to a court, when you might obtain damages. Or, a modern matter where this saying is popular is Brexit.
Shit is a vernacular word in Modern English denoting feces, the byproduct of digestion. It is an old and native English word, but following the Norman Conquest, Norman, Anglo-Norman, French, and Latin terms for many common objects and bodily functions began to be seen as more distinguished than native words, and thereafter feces became the accepted English noun, to defecate became the accepted English verb, and shit was no longer used in polite company. It is therefore a swear word and can be classed as a use of 'slang', for example, "Shit!". Though it can often be used in a non-pejorative manner, as in the slang: 'that's the shit' to mean 'that's good'. The term "shit" can also be used to describe poor conditions, for example, "That is rather shitty!".
Scholars trace the word back to Old Norse origin (skīta), and it is virtually certain that it was used in some form by preliterate Germanic tribes at the time of the Roman Empire. It was originally adopted into Old English as scitte, eventually morphing into Middle English schītte. The word may be further traced to Proto-Germanic *skit-, and ultimately to Proto-Indo-European *skheid-, "split, divide, separate." Conceptually, it refers to that part of the body (the excrement), which is "divided" from the rest of the body. It is related to the verb "to shed" (as in, "to shed one's skin"), "schism", and other words in common English usage. In Ireland the phrase "I'm shitting myself laughing" retains the older pronunciation "I'm skitting myself" but this may be due to more recent euphemisation.
"Shit" has cognates in many other Indo-European languages, including Greek, where the cognate root skor, skato- has been borrowed into English and forms the basis of scatology and a host of related technical terms. The most likely common word for "shit" in Proto-Indo-European would however probably be *kakka, (cf. Latin caca, Anglo-Saxon cac, German kacke, kacken ["poo, to poo"], Turkish kaka or bok, Irish cac ["dung"], Russian кака, какать ["poo, to poo"], and Greek κακός ["bad"]). This may indeed be the origin of the term "poppycock" (used as a softer form of "bullshit"), through Dutch.
The variant form shite is found in many regional and social dialects, especially in Scotland, Ireland and Northern England where it is generally used as an adjective, and is sometimes used in other parts of the world as a less-offensive (at least in intent) form of the word "shit". Shite can also be used by people in North America to sound funny, as it is not usually used. (In the American English context its offensive potential may be somewhat mitigated, as are arse, bloody, and some other British forms of profanity.) In Ireland, poor items are often described as 'a pile of shite.'
Spoken and written substitutes for the word shit in American English include sugar, sugarplums, sheesh!, shoot!, shizzle, shucks!, as in the constructions, Oh, sugar! Sheesh, that was a close one, Aw, shoot!, and Aw, shucks! Foreign language versions are also often used such as "scheisse" from German or "merde" from French. These are colloquialisms that are rather complex in usage, with sugar accruing mostly to female speakers in the American South and many rural contexts, shoot being near-universal, shucks enjoying occasional vogue in many contexts, and sheesh being predominantly urban, as well as doing double duty by crossing over with the term, sheez, which is in a continuum with jeez, a euphemism for Jesus. All of these terms are considered polite, mildly comical, and archaic, although none is an archaism, and all remain in general use. Countless words beginning with the phoneme, sh-, have seen duty as quick and improvised substitutes for shit by polite Americans, on occasions in which thumbs have been banged by hammers and stepladders have slipped their purchases.
Several foreign loan words in English are carefully spelled so as to avoid the sequential grouping of the letters, s, h, i, and t. The word shih-tzu offered a mediating h and hyphen long before such care was common in Romanizing phonetic Chinese. Shi'ite sometimes carries an apostrophe to further insulate it from homonymy. (However, this is also an alternative colloquial pronunciation of "shit"!) Produce departments in U.S. supermarkets take special care to use a double letter "i" in the labelling of shiitake mushrooms. The German-Jewish surname Lipshitz has been subject to many reconfigurations and legal changes, although holdouts yet stand firm. (The surname Shitz, however, appears to be abandoned, as any individual who held it would find their first name unwillingly and irrevocably engaged in a grammatical but unflattering sentence.) It has also been the subject of numerous jokes, such as "Doctor Lipshitz" the parenting coach on Rugrats.
The word shit is used by English speakers, but it is considered an obscenity, and thus is usually avoided in formal speech. A less vulgar substitute is crap, which while still impolite and/or emphatic, is not considered obscene. The correct vernacular usage of crap is mostly identical, with certain key exceptions (see below). Many people get a good sense of satisfaction from using the word "shit" and see it as just a good way to relieve stress: "Oh shit!"
In the word's literal sense, it has a rather small range of common usages. In American English, an unspecified or collective occurrence of feces is generally shit or some shit, a single deposit of feces is sometimes a shit or a piece of shit, and to defecate is to shit, or counterintuitively to take a shit. While it is common to speak of shit as existing in a pile, a load, a hunk and other quantities and configurations, such expressions flourish most strongly in the figurative. For practical purposes, when actual defecation and excreta are spoken of in English, it is either through creative euphemism (pinching a loaf, laying some cable, seeing Mr. Brown off to the coast, dropping the kids off at the pool, brewing up a pot of s.h.i. tea, releasing the prisoners, lighting a bum cigar, cutting a log, dropping a deuce, making sausages, making butterfinger bb's, punching a grumper, seeing a man about a horse) or with a vague and fairly rigid literalism.
Most expressly, in English, shit carries an encompassing variety of figurative meanings. Of these, perhaps the most common are generic expressions of displeasure (as in, Shit!), fear (Oh, shit!), or surprise (Holy shit!).
Shit denotes trouble, as in, I was in a lot of shit; low quality, as in, That disk drive is shit; unpleasantness, as in, Those pants look like shit, or This casserole tastes like shit; or falsehood or insincerity, as in, Don't give me that shit, or You're full of shit. The word bullshit also denotes false or insincere discourse. (Horseshit is roughly equivalent, while chickenshit means cowardly). Are you shitting me!? is a question sometimes given in response to an incredible assertion. An answer that reasserts the veracity of the claim is, I shit you not.
Shit can also be used as a comparative noun; for instance, This show is funny as shit!, or This test is hard as shit, or That was stupid as shit. For the third example here, stupid can be replaced with a synonym such as dumb or idiotic, although idiotic is uncommonly used and would sound out of place in this phrase. These three usages (with funny, hard, and stupid or another synonym of stupid) are heard most commonly in the United States. Note that shit is both a positive and negative thing in these examples, shit being apparently very funny (a positive thing) and in the second and third examples very hard (as in, difficult- a negative thing to be) or very stupid. Note also that in a phrase like this, the speaker doesn't include the term as before the comparison- saying that something is as funny as shit would sound like a criticism to anyone reading the term (shit not being a very funny thing to be), although if spoken could be understood along with the spirit it's said in. Using the as changes these phrases from a simple colloquialism to a literal statement.
Shit can comfortably stand in for the terms bad and nothing in many instances (Dinner was good, but the movie was shit. You're all mad at me, but I didn't do shit!). Many usages are idiomatic. The phrase, I don't give a shit denotes indifference. I'm shit out of luck usually refers to someone who is at the end of their wits or who has no remaining viable options. That little shit shot me in the ass, suggests an individual of small rectitude.
However, in such a nominative construction, crap (as in, That little crap shot me in the ass) is not accepted vernacular English. A more likely phrasing would be, that little crap-head, or that little turd. Of further note is that little shit is common as a term of opprobrium, while big shit is unfamiliar, and that direct scatological appellations are rarely applied to females, for whom gender-specific terms such as bitch or cunt more readily accrue. (However, in Britain, the term cunt is used to refer to men very much more frequently than to women, so it is not really a gender-specific term.)
In Get your shit together! the term may refer to some set of personal belongings or tools, or to one's wits, composure, or attention to the task at hand. He doesn't have his shit together suggests he is failing rather broadly, with the onus laid to multiple personal shortcomings, rather than bad luck or outside forces. Shit can even be a plain, neuter pronoun for basically anything in vulgar speech. EG, in There is some serious shit going down shit can easily be replaced by stuff with no real loss of meaning (the same goes for Get your shit together! and the like).
"When the shit hits the fan" is usually used to refer to a specific time of confrontation or trouble, which requires decisive action. This is often used in reference to combat situations and the action scenes in movies, but can also be used for everyday instances that one might be aprehensive about. "I don't want to be here when the shit hits the fan!" indicates that the speaker is dreading this moment (which can be anything from an enemy attack to confronting an angry parent or friend). "He's the one to turn to when the shit hits the fan." is an idication that the person being talked about is dependable and will not run from trouble or abandon their allies in though situations. The concept of this phrase is simple enough, as the actual substance striking the rotating blades of a fan would cause a messy and unpleasant situation (much like being in the presence of a manure spreader). Whether or not this has actually happened, or if the concept is simply feasible enough for most people to immagine the result wihout needing it to be demonstrated, is unknown. There are a number of anecdotes and jokes about such situations, however, as the imagery of these situations is considered to be funny. This is generally tied-in with the concept that disgusting and messy substances spilled onto someone else is humorous.
While the most common uses of shit are figurative, the unpleasant substance to which the term literally refers is seldom entirely absent, and thus most uses of shit have some degree of pejoration. But this is far from a universal rule: In some styles of discourse, shit can replace nearly any noun. In the sentence, "I bought a bunch of shit at the store today", shit is merely a casual intensification of the term, stuff. Similarly, Check that shit out! connotes surprise at some sort of stuff or activity that could very well be pleasant. Give me a bite of that shit implies a deliciousness notably absent from the literal substance. It's common for someone to refer to an unpleasant thing as hard shit (You got a speeding ticket? Man, that's some hard shit), but the phrase tough shit is used as an unsympathetic way of saying too bad to whomever is having problems (You got arrested? Tough shit, man!) or as a way of expressing to someone that they need to stop complaining about a negative thing that occurred to them and just deal with it (Billy: I got arrested because of you! Tommy: Tough shit, dude, you knew you might get arrested when you chose to come with me.) Note that in this case, as in many cases with the term, tough shit is often said as a way of pointing out someone's fault in his/her own current problem. To drug users, shit almost always refers to a drug being discussed. This was a secret code in the early 60s, and though most people now understand that in phrases like "I bought some good shit today, I can't wait to try it", the usage of the phrase is still common.
Perhaps the only constant connotation that shit reliably carries is that the referent to which it applies holds some degree of emotional intensity for the speaker. Whether offense is taken at hearing the word varies greatly according to listener and situation, and is related to age and social class: elderly speakers and those of (or attaining to) higher socioeconomic strata tend to use it more privately and selectively than younger and more blue-collar speakers. Regardless, it is highly improbable that any native English speaker of any age or social position can truthfully claim never to have used the word. Moreover, in some colloquial speech, calling something or someone the shit is laudatory. For instance, Dave's new car is the shit, suggests that Dave's new car is very good, or very cool. This meaning is also essentially a substitution for the term stuff, but is also similar to the vernacular usage of bad to mean dangerous and deserving of respect. Crap is unknown in such locutions.
As an adjective, to be shitty usually denotes low quality: This is a shitty train. It can mean to feel ill or guilty: John felt shitty today, or, referring to an action, it can mean to be contemptible or immoral: That was a shitty thing to do to her. The noun form is often interchangeable with the adjectival, especially when referring to objects and intangibles. Ex.: This is a shit train, or The weather was shit today. The positive adjective form is to refer to something as being "the shit." This usage is often used to refer to; oneself "I'm the Shit!", an event "That concert was the shit!", or anything particularly great "Tangerines are the shit!"
The verb to shit
The verb, to shit, is most commonly used to refer to the literal act of defecation, but it can also mean to treat badly or to humiliate (I got shit on for being late, He shit all over my project), or to produce something carelessly (I was hoping for a project we could all be proud of, but Dave just goes and shits something out at the last minute). The past participle of to shit is attested as shat, shit, or shitted, depending on dialect and sometimes the rhythm of the sentence. In American English shit as a past participle is always correct, while shat is generally acceptable and shitted is uncommon. In the Prologue of the Canterbury Tales, "shitten" is used as the past participle.
Usage of shits occurs in three types of common English. Although not formal, shits as a verb (Mark shits in the morning) is still correct, but this tense is not widely used, as takes a shit is more direct in meaning. As a noun (Those little shits) refers to children or people of low status, such as Freshman to upper classmen on any level. Lastly, the shits is euphemistic for diarrhea (That bean burrito dip gave me the shits!!). This usage is not common in popular language, but still present in circles of military veterans and cowboys.
Shit (like fuck) is often used more to add emphasis than meaning: Shit! I was so shit-scared of that shithead that I shit-talked him into dropping out of the karate match. The term, to shit-talk, connotes bragging or exaggeration (whereas to talk shit primarily means to gossip [about someone in a damaging way] or to talk in a boastful way about things which are erroneous in nature), but in such constructions as the above, the word shit often functions as an interjection. Euphemisms for shit in this usage include shoot, shucks, and in Hiberno-English sugar and its Irish equivalent siúcra (pronounced /ʃuːkrə/.
Shit itself can be a quasi-euphemism, many illicit drugs (notably hashish) being referred to as shit. To be shitfaced is to be extremely drunk.
Other parts of speech
Non-native English speakers should take note that shit and fuck often serve different uses as expletives, such that (for instance) the gerund, shitting, is rarely used emphatically. Ex.: In the sentence, I was so shit-scared of that shithead that I shit-talked him into dropping out of the shitting karate match, the phrase, shitting karate match, would be incomprehensible to native speakers except in suggesting a singularly unsanitary form of karate. (In the UK, phrases such as shitting hell as an emphatic are not unknown.) A correct and clear vulgarism would be, the fucking karate match. Similarly, shit is never used as an infix: While in-fucking-credible is comprehensible English, in-shitting-credible is not. Shit you! is likewise a puzzling and ineffective expression of defiance. It is not uncommon, however, to encounter an adjective constructed partially of the word shit, such as "Shittastic" or "Shittacular".
Sometimes in family movies, some actors let the word s**t slip, but then stretch it into a harmless word. An example of this occurring are in Spy Kids, where Carmen is heard to say, "Oh, shit...take mushrooms." The euphemism was also written into Spy Kids 2, where Carmen says, "You are full of shiitake mushrooms." (The crowd was offended anyway.)
"Shit" is very commonly used in the Dutch language, expressing a general discomfort with a certain situation ("Shit!"), or to describe the situation itself. ("I'm in deep shit"). It is not as offensive to Dutch speakers as it is to English, but one would not use it in a formal situation. The use of it by children is discouraged by adults, teaching them substitutes like chips (In Dutch pronounced as the English ships). "Shit" is most commonly used as a replacement of the more obscene word "kut", meaning "cunt", "Kut" is mostly used in the same way as "shit" is in the Dutch language.
Some users of English in the Far East use the expression nose shit to describe the fragments of dried nasal mucus which occasionally exit (deliberately or accidentally) from the nostrils. Similarly, expressions eye shit and less commonly ear shit describe discharge of the eye, dried or still moist, and ear wax, respectively.
Recently the word shit has become increasingly acceptable on American television and radio (in Britain this has been the case for some time, although fuck and cunt remain mainly taboo). Many songs with the word shit in them are now slipping past censors on the radio.
A good example is the episode of South Park "It Hits The Fan" in which the citizens of South Park use the word shit 162 times, as counted by a counter at the bottom left corner of the screen. This episode is currently airing as early as primetime left fully intact.
The hit drama on the FX network, Nip/Tuck as well as FX's other late-night dramas, 30 Days, The Shield and Rescue Me, are frequently using the word without censoring.
In Canada, shit and even fuck are commonly aired uncensored on primetime tv. A good example is the Canadian sitcom Trailer Park Boys where words like shit, fuck, and even creative phrases like "shitbat" are used many times per episode.
In the song Man in the Box by Alice in Chains, the line "Buried in my shit" was played unedited over most rock radio stations.
In the radio venue, certain songs are being played with the word intact as well. In Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner", many radio stations leave in the line "funky shit going down in the city". Likewise, the Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" has a line about having no idea "what kind of shit was about to go down". Both of these songs were released with a "radio edit" version that is progessively being unplayed by radio stations throughout the United States.
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