Peter Richardson prichard at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue May 1 17:01:26 UTC 2001

I've heard this bird name only as "shypoke"--from the Ozarks, where the
birds are numerous along the White River in Arkansas. No matter what the
etymology might be, the current connection with defecation/bathroom is
likely to stem from the printed version of the name rather than its spoken
version, which clearly contains a long vowel. The "shy" could then be
ascribed to either euphemism or popular etymology.


> As I recall, "shitepoke" was in OED since the
> 14th Century.  Compounded of shite-, "shit;"
> and -poke, "bag."   Usually referred to the blue
> heron or a bittern.....(a satirical Boston broadside
> of the early 1770's likened British troops disem-
> barking to "shitepokes....running to and fro on the
> beach.")

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