Where did this come from? It makes no sense to me...why is the shit even near the fan?
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Partridge says it's US and Canada slang from c. 1930, and that Norman Franklin says (1976) the original reference is to ther agricultural muck-spreader, and also mentions the following joke as perhaps valid.
The Online Etymology Dictionary says:
US military in WWII
The phrase was at least part of US military slang during World War II, as euphemistic versions can be found in contemporary books, particularly in US Marines accounts of the war. From 1945's The U. S. Marines on Iwo Jima by Raymond Henri et al.
The 1947 Star-Spangled Mikado by Frank Raymond Kelley says:
The song title is also shown in the 1946 The conqueror comes to tea: Japan under MacArthur by John La Cerda:
1949's The old breed: a history of the First Marine Division in World War II by George McMillan tells us the phrase became so popular it was used as a code for a fight or action:
Finally, the first I found actually using shit is also from WWII in The Naked and the Dead, the 1948 novel by Norman Mailer:
Don't try this at home they say !!!
In proper sense, I believe you can try to model the physics of the solids: the fan is a device that, by its very design is meant to move air. But it can be anything else.
In figurative sense, when the shit hits the fan means that there is trouble ahead and that it will be very messy.
protected by tchrist Oct 6 '12 at 3:04
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