Shit is one of the most functionally diverse words in the English language, and is also one of the most frequently used nouns. In its literal meaning, it is usually considered a vulgar word (swear word) in Modern English. As a noun it refers to fecal matter (excrement) and as a verb it means to defecate or defecate in; in the plural ("the shits") it means diarrhea. As a slang term, it can mean nonsense, foolishness or something of little value; trivial and usually boastful or inaccurate talk, or a contemptible person. To shit, in slang, is to talk nonsense to, or to attempt to deceive.
In the word's literal sense, it has a rather small range of common usages. An unspecified or collective occurrence of feces is generally shit or some shit; a single deposit of feces is sometimes a shit or a piece of shit, and to defecate is to shit, or to take a shit. While it is common to speak of shit as existing in a pile, a load, a hunk and other quantities and configurations, such expressions flourish most strongly in the figurative. For practical purposes, when actual defecation and excreta are spoken of in English, it is either through creative euphemism or with a vague and fairly rigid literalism.
"Shit" can also be combined with other words to denote the type of feces one has. For instance, "Snake shit" describes feces that are long and slender in shape, thus reminiscent of a snake's appearance. "Shapeepee" or "Shit pee pee" is another word for diarrhea, or can be used to describe feces that are almost entirely of liquid composition.
Shit carries an encompassing variety of figurative meanings, explained in the following sections.
In Get your shit together! the word shit may refer to some set of personal belongings or tools, or to one's wits, composure, or attention to the task at hand. He doesn't have his shit together suggests he is failing rather broadly, with the onus laid to multiple personal shortcomings, rather than bad luck or outside forces.
To shoot the shit is to have a friendly but pointless conversation, as in "Come by my place some time and we'll shoot the shit."
The word can also be used to represent anger, as in Jim is totally going to flip his shit when he sees that we wrecked his marriage.
When the shit hits the fan is usually used to refer to a specific time of confrontation or trouble, which requires decisive action. This is often used in reference to combat situations and the action scenes in movies, but can also be used for everyday instances that one might be apprehensive about. I don't want to be here when the shit hits the fan! indicates that the speaker is dreading this moment (which can be anything from an enemy attack to confronting an angry parent or friend). He's the one to turn to when the shit hits the fan is an indication that the person being talked about is dependable and will not run from trouble or abandon their allies in tough situations. The concept of this phrase is simple enough, as the actual substance striking the rotating blades of a fan would cause a messy and unpleasant situation (much like being in the presence of a manure spreader). Whether or not this has actually happened, or if the concept is simply feasible enough for most people to imagine the result without needing it to be demonstrated, is unknown. Another example might be the saying shit rolls down hill which is particularly illustrating, the consequences of putting your superiors in a bad position at work. There are a number of anecdotes and jokes about such situations, as the imagery of these situations is considered to be funny. This is generally tied-in with the concept that disgusting and messy substances spilled onto someone else are humorous.
The term piece of shit is generally used to classify a product or service as being sufficiently below the writer's understanding of generally accepted quality standards to be of negligible and perhaps even negative value.The term piece of shit has greater precision than shit or shitty in that piece of shit identifies the low quality of a specific component or output of a process without applying a derogatory slant to the entire process. For example, if one said "The inner city youth orchestra has been a remarkably successful initiative in that it has kept young people off the streets after school and exposed them to culture and discipline, thereby improving their self esteem and future prospects. The fact that the orchestra's recent rendition of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony in B minor was pretty much a piece of shit should not in any way detract from this." The substitution of shit or shitty for pretty much a piece of shit would imply irony and would therefore undermine the strength of the statement.
In this form the word can also be used in phrases such as don't give me that shit or you're full of shit. The term full of shit is often used as an exclamation to charge someone who is believed to be prone to dishonesty, exaggeration or is thought to be "phoney" with an accusation. For example:
The word bullshit also denotes false or insincere discourse. (Horseshit is roughly equivalent, while chickenshit means cowardly, batshit indicates a person is crazy, and going apeshit indicates a person is entering a state of high excitement or unbridled rage.). Are you shitting me!? is a question sometimes given in response to an incredible assertion. An answer that reasserts the veracity of the claim is, I shit you not.
Like the word fuck, shit is often used to add emphasis more than to add meaning, for example, shit! I was so shit-scared of that shithead that I shit-talked him into dropping out of the karate match! The term to shit-talk connotes bragging or exaggeration (whereas to talk shit primarily means to gossip [about someone in a damaging way] or to talk in a boastful way about things which are erroneous in nature), but in such constructions as the above, the word shit often functions as an interjection.
Unlike the word fuck, shit is not used emphatically with -ing or as an infix. For example; I lost the shitting karate match would be replaced with ...the fucking karate match. Similarly, while in-fucking-credible is generally acceptable, in-shitting-credible is not.
In polite company, sometimes the backronym Sugar Honey in Tea or Sugar Honey Iced Tea is used.
"Shit" was one of the original "Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV", a comedy routine by the late American Comedian George Carlin. In the United States, although the use of the word is censored on broadcast network television (while its synonym crap is not usually subject to censorship), the FCC permitted some exceptions. The October 14, 1999 episode of Chicago Hope is believed to be the first show (excluding documentaries) on U.S. network television to contain the word shit in uncensored form. The word also is used in a later ER episode "On the Beach" by Dr. Mark Greene, experiencing the final stages of a deadly brain tumor. Although the episode was originally aired uncensored, the "shit" utterance has since been edited out in syndicated reruns. An episode of South Park, "It Hits the Fan," originally aired on June 20, 2001, was a parody of the hype over the Chicago Hope episode. "Shit" is used 162 times, and a counter in the corner of the screen tallies the repetitions. The moral of this episode is that swearing is okay occasionally, but if it is done over and over and over, it takes away from a word's impact and the word gets very, very boring. South Park airs on American cable networks, outside the regulatory jurisdiction of the FCC, where censorship of vulgar dialogue is at the discretion of the cable operators. .
American terrestrial radio stations must abide by FCC guidelines on obscenity to avoid punitive fines, unlike satellite radio. These guidelines do not define exactly what constitutes obscenity, but it has been interpreted by some commissioners as including any form of words like shit and fuck, for whatever use.
Despite this, the word has been featured in popular songs that have appeared on broadcast radio in cases where the usage of the word is not audibly clear to the casual listener, or on live television. In the song "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains, the line "Buried in my shit" was played unedited over most rock radio stations. The 1980 hit album Hi Infidelity by REO Speedwagon contained the song "Tough Guys" which had the line "she thinks they're full of shit," which was played on broadcast radio. On December 3, 1994, Green Day performed "Geek Stink Breath," on Saturday Night Live, shit was not edited from tape delay live broadcast. The band did not appear on the show again until April 9, 2005.
Some notable instances of censorship of the word from broadcast television and radio include Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner." Although radio stations have sometimes played an unedited version containing the line "funky shit going down in the city." The songs was also released with a "radio edit" version, replacing the "funky shit" with "funky kicks". Another version of "Jet Airliner" exists in which the word "shit" is faded out. Likewise, the Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" has a line about having no idea "what kind of shit was about to go down," and has a radio edit version without the word. Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" video had the original album's use of the word censored in its video. The music video title "...On the Radio (Remember the Days)" by Nelly Furtado replaced by the original title "Shit on the Radio (Remember the Days)." This also happened to "That's That Shit" by Snoop Dogg featuring R. Kelly, which became "That's That." In Avril Lavigne's song "My Happy Ending," the Radio Disney edit of the song replaces "all the shit that you do" with "all the stuff that you do." Likewise, in the recent song "London Bridge" by the Black Eyed Peas member Fergie, the phrase "Oh Shit" is repeatedly used as a background line. A radio edit of this song replaced "Oh Shit" with "Oh Snap."