Author Topic: Origin of the word "shit"  (Read 449 times)

Schala Zeal

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Origin of the word "shit"
« on: September 01, 2010, 02:26:10 am »
Apparently in the old days, ships would transport fertilizer, and if the pressure (or something) wasn't right, the fertilizer tended to explode. So the fertilizer was packed into crates labeled "S.H.I.T" for Store High In Transit

Lord J Esq

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Re: Origin of the word "shit"
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 03:52:28 am »
That is apocryphal. Whenever you hear one of these slightly-too-clever or slightly-too-cute stories about how a word got its name or how a custom got its start, you should be suspicious--which is sad, because sometimes the myth is better than the reality. (I much prefer the totally false claim that the dollar sign, $, which used to be written with two slashes rather than one, was derived from the superimposed letters of the national monogram "US.")

Here's the truth behind the word, straight from yonder dictionary:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shit

(v.) var. (with short i  from ptp. or n.) of earlier shite,  ME shiten,  OE scītan;  cf. MLG, MD schiten  (D schijten ), OHG skīzan  (G scheissen ); (n.) re-formation from the v., or continuation of OE scite  (in place names)

Edit: When I get mad tired like I am now, romps like "browse/shit" become very humorous indeed...

xcalibur

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Re: Origin of the word "shit"
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 06:29:15 am »
indeed, thats an urban legend. here's what etymonline.com has to say about it:

shit (v.)
O.E. scitan, from P.Gmc. *skit-, from PIE *skheid- "split, divide, separate." Related to shed (v.) on the notion of "separation" from the body (cf. L. excrementum, from excernere "to separate"). It is thus a cousin to science and conscience. The noun is O.E. scitte "purging;" sense of "excrement" dates from 1580s, from the verb. Despite what you read in an e-mail, "shit" is not an acronym. The notion that it is a recent word may be because the word was taboo from c.1600 and rarely appeared in print (neither Shakespeare nor the KJV has it), and even in "vulgar" publications of the late 18c. it is disguised by dashes. It drew the wrath of censors as late as 1922 ("Ulysses" and "The Enormous Room"), scandalized magazine subscribers in 1957 (a Hemingway story in "Atlantic Monthly") and was omitted from some dictionaries as recently as 1970 ("Webster's New World"). Extensive slang usage; verb meaning "to lie, to tease" is from 1934; that of "to disrespect" is from 1903. Noun use for "obnoxious person" is since at least 1508; meaning "misfortune, trouble" is attested from 1937. Shat is a humorous past tense form, not etymological, first recorded 18c. Shite, now a jocular or slightly euphemistic variant, formerly a dialectal variant, reflects the vowel in the O.E. verb (cf. Ger. scheissen). Shit-faced "drunk" is 1960s student slang; shit list is from 1942. To not give a shit "not care" is from 1922; up shit creek "in trouble" is from 1937. To shit bricks “be very frightened” attested by 1961. The connection between fear and involuntary defecation has generated expressions since 14c., and probably also is behind scared shitless (1936).
The expression [the shit hits the fan] is related to, and may well derive from, an old joke. A man in a crowded bar needed to defecate but couldn't find a bathroom, so he went upstairs and used a hole in the floor. Returning, he found everyone had gone except the bartender, who was cowering behind the bar. When the man asked what had happened, the bartender replied, 'Where were you when the shit hit the fan?' [Hugh Rawson, "Wicked Words," 1989]

that's why its my favorite site for etymology.

entry for dollar: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=dollar

ZaichikArky

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Re: Origin of the word "shit"
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 11:00:19 am »
hehe yeah... a long time ago, there was this chain e-mail that talked about all the origins of a lot of idioms and proverbs... unfortunately all of them turned out to be urban legend. Do you guys know the origin of flipping the birdie? Apparently that one has an origin of fox hunting in England. Maybe it wasn't fox hunting... *looks up*. Not getting anything. Instead I'm finding a lot of the acronym crap which is not accurate at all. Oh well. These things were apparently invented so long ago that it's hard to tell where they came from.

Lord J Esq

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Re: Origin of the word "shit"
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2010, 10:10:58 pm »
I think the legend you're thinking of, Zaichik, is that bowmen supposedly used to draw their strings with their middle fingers, and would flash their middle fingers at enemies as a boast. A nice story, but not the actual source of the practice.

utunnels

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Re: Origin of the word "shit"
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2010, 02:23:52 am »
Hehe, it reminds me of an argument about the Chinese character 矮(short) and 射(shoot).
Someone says 矮 is formed by 矢(arrow) and 委(can mean give), so it should mean shoot, and 射 is formed by 身(body) and 寸(a small unit of length) so it should mean short. The conclusion is the 2 characters were swapped by accident in history for some reason.
But that was just a coincidence. Take 射 for example, its shape has been changed quite a lot since it was created.

« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 02:38:15 am by utunnels »