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In this American English lesson I’ll teach you all about the word shit: how to use it, its different meanings and several interesting phrases in which it’s used. In American English we use lots of slang and lots of cuss words (or “curse words”). The word shit is perhaps the most common. In this lesson I’ll break down all the nuances of this word and you’ll start feeling more confident when it’s used in conversation. This is a not-bleeped American English lesson so please be aware of that going into it.
Oh shit, we’re rolling?
In American English, just like any language, we have our cuss words, our swear words, our curse words, our bad words, and some of us love using them. But the meanings of the different ways they are used can sometimes be difficult to understand. For example, being shitfaced has a totally different meaning than being a shit head. But why? There’s not much difference between a face and a head. So in today’s video, which from now on will be un-bleeped, you will be hearing cuss words, we’re going to go over the meaning of some of these different phrases Americans use with the word “shit”. Also the pronunciation of “shit” and “sheet”.
This first one cracks me up because it’s meaning is so simple and wholesome. It means to chat. Casual conversation, just talking about this and that with a friend. The phrase is ‘shoot the shit’.
“I ran into Jason at the store. Yeah, we just shot the shit for a while. Caught up.” We shot the shit, we chatted. Here’s another example:
We kind of just shoot the shit – chat about nothing in particular. Casual.
Now, let’s talk about “no shit” and “know shit”. These two words are pronounced the same, but they’re two different words with different meanings. “No shit” means everybody knows that, that’s obvious, you’re stupid for pointing it out. Like, sometimes on my Youtube channel people will comment, “Rachel, you have gray hair.” No shit, of course I can also see that have gray hair.
Now, know shit, K-N-O-W, is usually used in the negative.
“You don’t know shit.” And that means you don’t get it. You’re lacking knowledge. For example, let’s say someone is accusing me of treating my employees poorly. I could say, you don’t know shit about how I run my business. You know nothing about it, so don’t comment on it.
But you could say, I know some shit. I have some knowledge about that. Let’s say my treadmill is broken. My husband fixes it, and I’m like, “What? You know how to fix treadmills?” And he says, “Yeah. I know some shit.”
Now let’s talk about pronunciation for a second. A lot of my students don’t have a clear IH and EE. These two vowels sound similar in their speech, sometimes exactly the same. So ‘shit’ and ‘sheet’ sound the same. IH is similar to EE, there’s just a little more space between the roof of the mouth and the tongue. I’ll alternate. Ee, ih, ee, ih, ee, ih, sheet, shit, sheet, shit.
Shit can be used to mean stuff or things. I have a lot of shit to do today. That means I’m busy. I have some meetings, I have to get an oil change for my car. Or, I’m going on a trip, I leave tomorrow, and I still have a lot of shit to pack. A lot of stuff, a lot of things to pack. Or, let’s say your roommate was using your laptop when you weren’t around. You might say, please don’t touch my shit without asking. We definitely don’t mean your poop. We mean stuff, things. It can be used to refer to anything you’re talking about. In the example they’re talking about songs, music.
He makes shit sound good
So shit: stuff, things. But it can also mean problems. Mandy broke up with Dave because she didn’t want to deal with his shit anymore. He needs to get his shit together. To get your shit together means to do life well. Have a steady job. Have a place to live.
So even some adults, maybe I would even say many adults, don’t have their shit together.
It would be nice if everyone had their shit together.
If you don’t have your shit together, then your life might be a shitshow or a shitstorm. I’m going to take this opportunity to point out one more thing about pronunciation. If the sound after the ending T of shit is a consonant, then we make that a stop T. Shit-show, shit-show. That little break in sound is the T. We don’t ttttt actually make a T sound, but the stop is important. Shitshow, shitshow, shitshow. Or shitstorm. What do these things mean? Let’s say you booked a hotel for the weekend, you showed up, they overbooked and didn’t have the room you reserved. They offered you something else but the air conditioner was broken and it’s really hot out. Also, you needed to get dinner from room service but there was a 90-minute wait. You’re telling a friend about this experience, all these things that went wrong, and you say, it was a total shit show. You know what can be a total shit show? High school.
Shitshow and shitstorm have the same meaning. Many things going wrong.
Sometimes life is a shitshow because someone shit the bed. Like your reservation at the hotel that got messed up. Let’s say the person booking you didn’t hit ‘save’. That person shit the bed. You shit the bed when you don’t do something you were supposed to do, or you mess something up. Let’s say you’re giving a presentation with a coworker and he was totally unprepared with his part of the presentation. He really shit the bed. Because of him the presentation was a shit show. Also, another coworker gave this client the wrong quote, so the whole situation was a complete shit storm.
So if you shit the bed, you should probably apologize. Because you made the shit hit the fan. That’s the breaking point of a situation. When the shit hits the fan is when things get out of control. The night was going okay until her ex walked into the party with a new girlfriend. Then the shit really hit the fan.
To have someone’s back means to help someone, to stand by someone in a difficult situation or if they are threatened. So, when the shit hits the fan, will you have my back?
But maybe you shit the bed because you don’t give a shit. That means you don’t care. This project failed because you don’t give a shit about it.
“Oooo, your dad’s not going to like this.”
“I don’t give a shit what my dad thinks. I just don’t care.”
Now, give a shit vs. take a shit.
I give a shit, this means I care. I take a shit, this means, well this one does actually mean I’m pooping. I take a shit. But take shit is different than take a shit. Taking shit is if you allow people to treat you badly. I take shit at work all day long, no one respects me.
If someone is full of shit, that means they’re lying. They don’t know what they’re talking about. What they’re saying is inaccurate. “He said he didn’t cheat on me, but I know he’s full of shit”. I know he’s lying.
Know when someone else is full of shit. Know when they don’t know what they’re talking about.
We also say “That’s a crock of shit” That means, I think that’s a lie and I don’t believe you. A crock is a pot or a jar. We actually don’t use this word in everyday English, and yet we use it in this phrase. We don’t say, that’s a jar of shit or that’s a pot of shit, we say, “That’s a crock of shit.” Sometimes we shorten it and we just say, “That’s a crock.” Bullshit is another thing that we can use to say we don’t believe what someone is saying. “You left the house without doing the dishes.” “Oh, I forgot.” “That’s bullshit, you just didn’t feel like doing them.”
This one can also be shortened to just “bull”.
Now, a crock of shit. I said a crock is a pot. And this reminds me of an idiom ‘shit or get off the pot’ This refers to. It’s a little gross, but it refers to being on the toilet waiting to take a shit and what it means idiomatically is make up your mind and do something. Some action, that you’ve been talking about or working towards for a while. Let’s say your friend has been complaining about his job for years, and saying he’s going to quit. You get tired of hearing this. At some point you
say, “Shit or get off the pot.” Either quit and move on, or stay at your job and quit complaining about it.
If you think someone is lying, or you don’t like them, then you might talk shit about them. To talk shit about someone just means to say mean things about them. You can even talk shit about yourself.
But that’s not very good for self-esteem.
You might have low self-esteem if you think
If you think something is shit, you think it’s no good. The battery life on my cell phone is shit. It only lasts an hour.
Now, what happens when you lose your shit? Does that mean you’ve lost your stuff, your things? No. it means you went crazy, you were so upset. Maybe you yelled, lost your temper. When my son keeps coming out of the room at bedtime, when he’s supposed to be falling asleep, sometimes, I lose my shit. So it can mean really angry, but also, just really excited. “When I found out my son got into college, I lost my shit!”
He lost his shit because he was so excited.
To lose your shit in anger, this is similar to a shitfit, to erupt in anger. “My mom is going to have a shit fit when she finds out I failed Math. I’m going to be in deep shit.”
To be in deep shit means to be really in trouble. John got in some deep shit. He stole from work and they found out.
You know there are still so many phrases with ‘shit’. There’s a shit ton. A shit load of phrases. These both mean a lot. But I’m going to wrap up with one more, this is an idiom.
Things have not gone well and you’re in a bad situation. You’re up shit creek. The full idiom is up shit creek without a paddle, but it’s often shortened to up shit creek. A creek is a little stream, and a paddle is what you might use in a boat to move along. If you don’t have a paddle, well, it’s kind of hard to see how you’re going to get out of bad situation.
We overstaffed the event and now we’re up shit creek. We’re probably going to lose money.
Thank you for giving a shit. For watching this video. You know what? You’re the shit. If you’re “the shit” that means you’re great. And I really think you’re the shit. You know what else is the shit? This comedic routine by a guy named Ismo, who is not a native speaker of English, as he goes over some of the things, he worked out about how Americans use the word “shit”. It’s priceless, so funny, you can find it on YouTube, check it out.
Keep your learning going now with this video. I make lessons on the English language every week and I’d love to have you learning with me. Don’t forget to subscribe with notifications. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.