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Your idea is shit

Your idea is bad.

Your idea is the shit

Your idea is good.

The same does not apply to "the crap" or "the poop", or other profanity like "the fuck".

I can think of examples where adding "the" to a noun makes it descriptive, like "the sux0rs" (bad), "the man" (good). I can't think of another example where a bad word is made good by adding "the".

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    How about "bomb" (bad if it explodes near you) and "the bomb" (good)?
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 25, 2015 at 5:12
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    Reminds me of this fun sentence: "An apostrophe is the difference between a company that knows its shit and a company that knows it's shit." Feb 25, 2015 at 13:39
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    @SvenYargs similar, but different. The adj. bomb as in, "That meal you cooked last night was bomb" is positive, but the adj. shit is negative Feb 25, 2015 at 13:48
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    What about "bollocks" (in UK usage)? "That's bollocks!" versus "That's the [dog's] bollocks"... very similar scenario isn't it?
    – Doktor J
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:29

1 Answer 1

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It looks like it is originated as a slang term for drugs, then gained a broader usage in time. Below is an excerpt from The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English edited by Tom Dalzell:

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And here is the earliest usage of the shit as a drug in 1967 from the book How to Talk Dirty and Influence People By Lenny Bruce:

(the earliest usage I could find)

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There is an Urbandictionary entry related:

The best. Originated as a term to describe high quality drug substances. IE, "this is good shit."

Evolved to common usage for any item of high quality. However, in typical usage, the article "the" is required to denote superiority. Without the word "the" prefacing the word "shit," a different, usually negative, meaning applies.

There is also the shiznit but even shiznit is used instead of the shit.

shiznit: More "urbanized" form of the shit. Basically means really, really good. Other versions include:hella cool,tight, the best. [Urbandictionary]


the shiznit: 1.something really cool.2.used to express joy in something/someone.3.to express that something is really or very good. [Urbandictionary]

There is also a less common term, the junk.

The epitomy of being sick, dope, or tight. [Urbandictionary]


Note: One needs to be careful though, because the shits means diarrhea.

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    Bonus: Egoism is defined as "I AM the shit!" in the shit happens list in Maledicta, Volume 12.
    – ermanen
    Feb 25, 2015 at 6:56
  • So, if you use "shit" to mean drugs, then "the shit" would be good drugs in the same way that "the life" is a good life. So what you really want to say is "your idea is the", but you can't say "the" without a noun so you say "your idea is the shit".
    – Owen
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:09
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    When I was young (early 90's) shit either only meant excrement (or comparisons to it) or drugs. How and when it started being used for other things like "I am the shit" I think is a relatively new development.
    – user39425
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:00
  • @ermanen That's egotism, not egoism. At least, anyway, egoism defined as "I AM the shit!" doesn't make sense.
    – user39425
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:02
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    So you're saying drugs are the answer? Awesome!
    – naught101
    Feb 26, 2015 at 1:04

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