Unemployment lingo (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 9 16:56:13 UTC 2009

FWIW, I think of "can" (meaning "fire [smn]") as derived purely from
"trash can"/"garbage can", as in "Can it!" = "Shut up!", and when I
first heard "shitcan" v. I took it as an angry intensive form. Does
Cassell's give a reason for their etymology?

Mark Mandel

On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 12:30 PM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 12:14 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
>> FWIW, when I waas in the Arny fifty years ago, any trashcan that
>> wasn't used for the disposal of left-over food - a "garbage can" - was
>> called a "shitcan." Throwing something away was referred to as
>> "shitcanning" it.
>> I've always felt that "can" in the sense of "fire" - I got *canned* -
>> was a clip of "shitcan," unless it was based on the old, sadistic,
>> children's game of tying a can to a dog's tail, still not unheard of
>> as recently as the war years, i.e., during WWII, for you younger folk.
> Cassell's supposes this sense of "can" (v.) is derived from "toss out on one's
> can," and "shitcan" (v.) is an intensified form thereof.
> --Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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