victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 23 12:55:47 UTC 2011

OED lists two meanings with well spread-out quotations:

shitabed n. rare  (a) (a term of abuse for) a lazy or worthless person;  (b)
>  [compare earlier pissabed n. 1a] Eng. regional (south.) the dandelion,
> Taraxacum officinale (now hist.).
> 1653    T. Urquhart tr. Rabelais 1st Bk. Wks. xxv. 115   The Bunsellers or
> Cake-bakers‥did injure them most outragiously, calling them‥mangie rascals,
> shiteabed scoundrels, drunken roysters, [etc.].
> 1690    Pagan Prince x. 29   But the Arragonian Bakers‥also gave them ill
> Language, calling them Tooth-Gapers, Sherks, Shittabeds, Slubber-degullions,
> [etc.].
> 1847    J. O. Halliwell Dict. Archaic & Provinc. Words II,   Shitabed, the
> dandelion. Wilts.
> 1967    H. Orton & M. F. Wakelin Surv. Eng. Dial. IV. i. 189
> Dandelion.‥[Devon] Shitabed.
> 1997    S. McFague Super, Nat. Christians iii. 55   Some are indelicate,
> even a bit gross—Naked Ladies, Pissabed (Shitabed), Mare's Fart, Priest's
> Ballocks.
> 1997    B. McNaughton Throne of Bones (2000) 83   ‘Where's your duster, you
> idle shitabed?’ Polliard roared.

Boyer's 1728 English-French Dictionary mentions it, but the translation
seems almost literal:  Celue ou celle que a chité au lit.

Wright's 1904 English Dialect Dictionary has "dandelion", but offers an
alternative for (a):

> an overbearing, quarrelsome bully; a passionate man

but also a bird:

your breeches, the redshank, /Tolanus calidris/

GB persists in misreading "shit" for "ship", which makes for some amusement,
but renders the searches useless.


The American Dialect Society -

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