"Shit or Get Off the Pot"

Beckymercuri at AOL.COM Beckymercuri at AOL.COM
Sun Sep 28 01:13:02 UTC 2003


I am a mere lurker here - especially because I enjoy Barry's food research. 
But just for fun, I did a search on google and here is something I found that 
may or may not be correct:

<A HREF="http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board/17/messages/675.html">http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board/17/messages/675.html</A>

Posted by ESC on November 30, 2002 at 23:38:26:
In Reply to: Re: All about sh*t posted by ESC on November 30, 2002 at 

: : : : : : I am doing an English assignment on shit, I have heard a history 
of it meaning: Ship High In Transit. Does anyone know of any other meaning? 
Please get back to me soon as my project is due on Monday Dec.2, 2002. Thank 

: : : : : There are folk derivations of various swearwords in the form of 
acronyms. For example, 'for unlawful carnal knowledge'. These are nonesense. 
Swearwords are just words like any others. For some reason, probably to do with 
coyness, some people prefer to invent spurious origins for them.

: : : : : According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word comes from the 
Old English:

: : : : : scite - dung and/or scitte - diarrhœa. 

: : : : I wonder if there's any connection to the Greek skatos, also meaning 

: : : My OED traces it only as far back as Old Norse and Middle Low German. 
The American Heritage Dictionary, however, refers it to the Proto-Indo-European 
root "skei-," to cut, split, whose descendants include "science" and 
"conscious" (L. "scire," to know, from "to separate one thing from another," 
"discern") and "schedule" and "schizo-" (Gr. "skhizein," to split).

: : It's "Scheiße" in German - very similar indeed.

SHIT – “From the Indo-European root ‘skei,’ ‘to divide,’ comes the Old 
English ‘scitan,’ ‘to defecate,’ that is the ancestor of our word ‘shit.’ ‘To 
shit’ thus means strictly to divide or cut (wastes) from the body.” Page 609. 
“Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on 
File, New York, 1997).

“…the Old English ‘scitan,’ to defecate, befoul, was spelled ‘shite’ by 
the 14th century and ‘shit’ by the 16th century. Until the late 19th century, 
however, written uses are so few that we don’t know what expressions ‘shit’ 
was used in…” Page 314. “I Hear America Talking” by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von 
Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

“‘Shit,’ as slang for nonsense or lies, is an Americanism probably first 
used by soldiers during the Civil War as a shortening of ‘bullshit,’ another 
Americanism that probably goes back 30 years or more earlier, though it is first 
recorded, in the form of its euphemism ‘bull,’ in about 1850.” Page 609. “
Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, 
New York, 1997).

“Then in the 1870s, such terms as ‘to fall in the shit’ (to get in trouble) 
and the exclamation ‘shit and corruption!’ were recorded. Also in wide use 
between the 1870s and the 1890s were such seemingly modern terms as ‘shit’ and ‘
bullshit’ meaning ‘nonsense, rubbish, lies’ (chicken shit’ and ‘horseshit’ 
were recorded in the 1930s); ‘the shits,’’ diarrhea’ ‘shit pot’ and ‘shit 
face,’ both referring to a contemptible person (followed by ‘shit head’ 
around 1915); ‘to shit on someone,’ to treat someone badly; and ‘to beat the shit 
out of’ someone. By 1910 ‘shit or bust,’ to do or die, was common and so was ‘
shit or get off the pot,’ a vulgar rephrasing of the old New England ‘fish 
or cut bait,’ meaning to do something or let someone else try, do something or 
give up. By 1918 S.O.L. was a common abbreviation for the older ‘shit out of 
luck.’ In World War I the old rural term ‘shithouse’…became a popular soldier’
s term for latrine…World War II introduced such expressions as ‘shit list,’ 
a black list, a mental list of disliked people; ‘shit on a shingle,’ creamed 
chipped beef on toast; and saw the increasing popularity of all obscenity and 
scatology, including ‘shit heel’ for a contemptible person…” Page 314-315. “
I Hear America Talking” by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New 
York, 1976).

“There was such a fantastic increase in the use of ‘f**k,’ ‘screw’ and ‘
shit’ during World War II that it almost seemed no serviceman could complete a 
sentence without using one of them. This armed forces use and acceptance of 
these words spread to many segments of the population during and after the war, 
helped by veterans bringing their vocabulary to college campuses, a wartime and 
postwar lessening of social restrictions, increasing social mobility, new 
concepts of free speech, the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1950s and 60s, and the 
Women’s Liberation movement since the late 1960s.” Page 158. “I Hear America 
Talking” by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

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