[Ads-l] Lexicalized animal-shit metaphors

Mark Mandel markamandel at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 4 01:45:19 UTC 2023

My son Jeremy Mandel sent me this inquiry:
I'm trying to think of which kinds of animal shit have clearly-defined
lexicalized metaphorical meanings. So far l've got bull, horse, bat, dog,
ape, and chicken:

*bullshit*: fraudulent or unfair
*horseshit*: similar to bullshit but syntactically distinct (you can say
"these rules are horseshit" but you wouldn't say "these are some horseshit
rules" as you could with bullshit)
*batshit*: wildly strange, crazy
*dogshit*: exceedingly low quality
*apeshit*: furious, violent
*chickenshit*: cowardly

Do you have any others?

I replied:
Hmmm... First to come to mind is "*jack shit*" as in "You don't know jack
shit about it", but of course that's not an animal, it's an emphasizer.

I thought of "*pig shit*" and found
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/thick_as_pig_shit :
thick as pig shit (not comparable)
1. (vulgar, simile) Extremely stupid.
Synonyms: thick as a brick; see also

"Bird shit" (± space) seems to be only literal. Nothing else that seems
relevant comes to mind.

He added:
[A friend of his] contributes "*monkeyshit*" as "foolish and inept to a
degree that is obvious to anyone with the slightest knowledge of the
subject", as in "the customer's lighting plan was completely monkeyshit".
I've never heard it but he says he's heard it here and there. He also
contributed "*quick as shit through a goose*", which like the pig shit is
not the same thing but is conceptually related as a lexicalized animal-shit
For whatever it may be worth, his friend is from Kentucky.

Mark Mandel

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

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