more shit

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 23 14:09:32 UTC 2011

Give a shit/not give a shit in the OED (in Phrases 3., under shit n.) does
not have a single example of a question, as in "Do[n't] you give a shit?" or
"Who gives a shit?" (same for "fuck").

Also, the variant "not give two shits" is not mentioned. I am wondering if
this is more recent or just went unnoticed for a long time.

"(When) the shit hits the fan" is correctly interpreted as "(when) a
situation suddenly becomes critical; (when) trouble suddenly or rapidly
breaks out", but there is a third sense variant--"(when) trouble finally
catches up, (when) [whatever troublesome activity one is involved in] is
finally discovered"--i.e., the shit hits the fan as a consequence of some
disreputable action. Another meaning--possibly subsumed in the second--is
"(when there is) a power struggle".

P25. "Shit happens" has lost it's purely negative connotation over time (did
it have it to begin with?). It need not be a "resigned attitude", but merely
the equivalent of "you never know what might happen"--positive or negative.

Nothing for "shit-happy" or "holy shit!". The former might be relatively
recent, but it does pop up: there is a Facebook page "That guy who looks
shit happy in Rebecca Black's 'Friday'." It's hard to tell sometimes if
"shit" is just a modifier on "happy" or if "shit-happy" is a single
expression--to be honest, I could not describe what it means if I tried.

As for "holy shit!", it's one of many "Holy X!", but one of the more common
ones (contrast with Simpsonesque "Holy cow!"). Other "Holy X!" interjections
are explicitly mentioned under holy 4.c.(c):

(c) used with a following word as an oath or expletive, as holy cow! int.,
> holy Moses! int., holy smoke! int., holy mackerel! int.

"Holy mother of god!" is not mentioned as an interjection either--mother of
god||shit. Never thought I'd write that... No alliterative "Holy Xs!" are
mentioned either.

There is an entry for "shit" applying to people:

2. An offensive or despicable person (usually a man); a person (usually a
man) whose behaviour is regarded as obnoxious.

But there is no separate subentry for children, who are the usual target of
this description (e.g., "little shits", "shits running around the house",
etc.--plain "little shit" appears in three quotations under the same lemma)
Scottish proverbs, collected and arranged by A. Henderson. 1832
> Shit. A contemptuous designation for a child.

Going back to shitting bricks, another volume of Scottish proverbs gives a
good one:
A complete collection of Scottish proverbs. By James Kelly. 1818
> 209. That's hard, quoth the old wife, when she shit a mill-stone.
> A senseless bauble when we think our fortune is bad

 "Worth a shit" is a common designation, particularly with negation (not
worth a shit)--no mention, although other similar phrases and meanings of
shit are listed. "Not worth a dime/nickel" is not listed either, but there
are other "not worth a X" that /are/ listed:
continental, cress, curse, damn, flaw, louse, mite, penny, picayune, pin,
plack, pudding, purchase, whistle

Only some of these have the same meaning (the obvious ones are "damn" and
"penny"). Thought, mention, memory are not listed either in this context.
But quotations include
black dog (coin), bender, band's end, thought, nail, brass button, cardecu
(coin), custock (castock==cabbage), "glass of cold without", cute (cuit,
coot), carlicue (curlicue--curlyQ), doit (doitkin, dodkin), dog turd, figge
(fig, dry fig), fillip, flick, fuck, fonk (funk), gooseberry, minute's care,
grig, grote (groat), farthing, tinker's cuss (tinker's curse--under "not
care a tinker's curse"), hoot, straw, leky's blade (leke, leek), couple of
nut shalis (nutshale, nutshell), Portsmouth passage boat (??), pear, pease,
pease-cod, pfenning, potato, bean, skerrick, skillagalee (skilligalee),
sneeshing, song, sou markee, sponk (spunk), thost, tord (turd).


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