Whilst watching the 3rd Test match between England and Australia, from Edgbaston, this week, the Barmy Army of England fans were singing as ever (the Australians are not terrace-singers in quite the same way as the English). And among their repertoire the little jingle intended to needle the Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson, and put him off his stride:
He bowls to the left, He bowls to the right, But, Mitchell Johnson, His bowling is shite.
When I looked it up I was amazed to find that shite has an entry in the OED with examples of its use from as early as 1733.
Intended as a word that takes some but not all of the offence out of using shit, it is also undoubtedly helpful to football and cricket fans when composing their rhyming ditties.
One can think of other words crikey, bloody wars or bloody Hilda (avoiding by our lady Mary),etc. What is the name given to a word intended to be a swear word- but not quite?
Etymology: Variant of shit n., probably resulting from the influence of forms of shit v. with a long vowel, although there could also have been an (unattested) inherited form in Old English with a long vowel (deriving from the e-grade of the same Germanic base); compare Middle Low German schīt, schīte faeces, filth, Middle High German schīze diarrhoea (German Scheiße faeces), Old Icelandic skítr faeces. The word occurs earliest regionally (chiefly in Ireland (where it is the usual form) and Scotland), and subsequently in colloquial English as a jocular or quasi-euphemistic variant of shit . For possible older attestation in place names see the etymological note at shit n.
regional (chiefly Sc. and Irish English) and coarse slang (chiefly Brit., Austral., and N.Z.). A. n.