Are shit, shat, and shitted all correct and fine to use as the past tense of shit?

After a little bit of searching it seems that they are, with shat being Old English. Is any form more common in British or American English?

Erik Kowal claims that shit is mostly American English and shat British English.

[M]ost Americans don't change the verb form for the past tense of certain short verbs ending in -it. So fit, spit, shit, slit and pit are thus formed both in the present and the past tense as far as Americans are concerned, whereas people from Britain would almost always use fitted, spat, shat, slitted and pitted for the past tense.

What about shitted?

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    – tchrist
    Apr 1, 2017 at 17:35

4 Answers 4


The OED’s etymology for this word is:

The form shite represents OE. *scítan, pa. t. *scát, pa. pple. -sciten (in be-sciten), corresponding to OFris. *skîta (NFris. skĭtj, pa. t. skäd, pa. pple. skedden), MLG. schîten, Dutch schijten, OHG. scîȥan (MHG. schîȥan, mod.G. scheissen), ONor. skíta (MSw. skîta, Da. skide), f. OTeut. root skī̆t-.

The now more common form shit is influenced by the pa. pple. or the related sb.

As far as modern/current forms go, it says that:

  • The present tense is either shit or shite.

  • For the past tense, the OED gives all three of shit, shat, shitted as current. So the answer to your question is yes.

  • For the past participle, the OED provides only shit and shat, with shitten last appearing in the 19th century.

That means you won’t find any one “correct” answer. Because those variant forms are all used natively by speakers born to the language, all are therefore “correct”. Use whatever you please.


In the US, you will most commonly hear "shit" (or "shits") used for all tenses:

"You're going to shit when you see this."

"When I saw the boss coming, I almost shit a brick."

"Last week, they cut the funding and the whole project shit the bed."

"She shits all over my suggestions."

Occasionally, you might hear "shitted", and I had one old boyfriend who used to say "shat", (and, as he was a plumber, and intimately acquainted with all the aspects of solid waste, it lent his expression a certain amount of authority) nonetheless, "shit" is the most widely used form of the verb.

  • I think it depends in part on whether the use is figurative or literal. Your past tense examples are figurative, and “shit” sounds right. But in these literal examples, “shat” is the usual past tense: “He shat the bed.” “A bird just shat (or shitted) all over my car.” In neither of these two cases do I think anyone (in the U.S.) would use “shit” as the past tense.
    – Steve Kass
    Jan 23, 2015 at 22:13
  • 1
    I don't know where you live - I'm in NY area - and, like I said, you might hear "shitted" once in a blue moon, but "shat" is gonna get you some weird looks. I was using figurative examples to avoid being too graphic, but if you insist... "He nearly shit out his liver." "After that chili, I shit fire for a week." "Who shit on the wall?" "When the gun fired, the entire flock of birds shit simultaneously."
    – Oldbag
    Jan 24, 2015 at 0:37
  • Strange. I’m in NY/NJ, and while I rarely say these things out loud, I don’t recall any weird looks. On the other hand, I don’t doubt you. Maybe I’m just being more polite, which is what a couple of discussions I just googled suggest is one distinction between the two choices. ;) Using google unscientifically, there are more "a bird shit on my car" than "a bird shat on my car," but the former isn't always past tense ("once had a bird shit on my car.") Here’s one Google Ngrams result suggesting both are in use, but shat is half as common (for birds on cars, at least): bit.ly/1yNYLXp
    – Steve Kass
    Jan 24, 2015 at 3:17
  • 3
    There's your answer... It's a "Jersey-thing". My old boyfriend the plumber was from New Jersey - we separated due to cultural differences.
    – Oldbag
    Jan 24, 2015 at 6:12

The answer "took a shit" is not irrelevant. This is the common usage in America, and explains why "shitted" and "shat" are rare in US. I suspect many don't think of "shit" as a verb, (just a noun and an expletive) so don't think of conjugating it. Not that they couldn't, but maybe they don't give a shit about it.

But a variant of "shit" (actually a portmanteau) does get conjugated; the verb you use if your fart turns out to be runny: shart, sharted, have sharted. some claim this is a recent coinage, but ngram viewer shows it as early as 1650. It shows as being much more popular then than now; although usage over the intervening years has been (pardon the pun) spotty.

  • Thanks for the input. However, I am interested in the correct for (if any) of the past tense. Not how to say that I took a crap the day before. An example could be the use of an expression like "shit bricks" referring to yesterday. I guess one way it to say "It made me shit bricks!". But can I say "I shitted bricks" or "I shit bricks", etc?
    – LyK
    Jan 23, 2015 at 11:08
  • 1
    Shart! UD gives the equivalent follow through. Probably more common in the UK. Jan 23, 2015 at 11:09
  • 2
    According to Garrison Keillor that's a "cargo fart".
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 23, 2015 at 17:48

As a British English speaker, I would confirm "shat" and "shitted", with the respective countable-vs-uncountable nuances of "produced an object" and "produced a mass of matter". Also, "had (or took) a shit" to refer to an event.

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