Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I understand that 'shucks' is a slang that is:

used especially to express mild disappointment or embarrassment

and this definition is listed separately from 'shuck' (the verb/noun) in merriam-webster.

Oxford dictionary online lists 'shucks' under 'shuck' as:


(shucks) informal

used to express surprise, regret, irritation, or, in response to praise, self-deprecation: 'Thank you for getting it.' 'Oh, shucks, it was nothing.'

But neither explains why the exclamation must be 'shuck' + 's'. I don't really know if the 's' expresses a plural (from the noun 'shuck') or a 3rd person singular (from the verb 'shuck').

Some online sources like Urban Dictionary says it is

a combination of f*** and sh*t

which I'm not really believing as I don't really hear people say 'aw f**k sh*ts' -it'd be more like 'f***ing sh*t'.

So, why is there an '-s' ending in this usage?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Etymonline lists the origin of shucks thusly:

Interjection shucks is 1847, from sense of "something valueless" (not worth shucks).

So, the -s termination comes from the plural in the original, longer expression.

share|improve this answer
I had no idea that "shucks" was connected with the noun "shuck". –  Colin Fine Sep 12 '11 at 11:54
I have a feeling that it's a contraction of "Fish-hooks" but I can't give a citation - maybe Huck Finn? –  peterG Jan 19 '14 at 2:28

I have a pet theory that this expression entered the American vernacular via Swedish:


There are a few other Americanisms that are reminiscent of Swedish in both sound and usage, and of course there was a mass migration of Swedes to the American mid-west around the turn of the last century.

share|improve this answer
Why in the world would an English expression with this meaning come from a Swedish word that means ‘cause/reason’? And what would the justification be for only taking one half of the Swedish expression, reanalysing it as two words (for no reason), and then also pluralising one of those two resulting words? This pet theory is very far-fetched, almost Goropian. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 15 '14 at 4:41
An interesting idea and from my visits to Sweden and observing the culture I can see how that could possibly be the case. However, it is remarkably tenuous. Have you any form of evidence? –  Chenmunka Aug 15 '14 at 8:14

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.