Where did the term "sure as shit" originate? I have googled and googled, and I cannot find a source.

  • 3
    Keep Googling. I'm sure the monks carefully documented it when Brother Ambrose first said it.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:12
  • 1
    Read the book "Everybody Poops"
    – Skooba
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:14
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    it is an expression from the 50's, according to Google Books: books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user66974
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:17
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    Shit has been used metaphorically in a many expressions which have become popular in recent decades: meaning "misfortune, trouble" is attested from 1937. Shit-faced "drunk" is 1960s student slang; shit list is from 1942. Up shit creek "in trouble" is from 1937 (compare salt river). To not give a shit "not care" is from 1922. Pessimistic expression Same shit different day attested by 1989. Shitticism is Robert Frost's word for scatological writing. etymonline.com/index.php?term=shit
    – user66974
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:25
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    I feel thoroughly educated now, @Josh61! Let's not forget "shitload" or a favorite phrase, "he knows shitloads of shit!". urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shitload Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


The emphatic "sure as hell" is in use in the late 19th century and possibly earlier. I did only a quick check.

The Southwestern Reporter: National Reporter System, Volume 46, Volume 46

The Southwestern Reporter: National Reporter System, Volume 46 (1898).

"Sure as shit" would be an analogous formation, which seems to have risen in popularity post World War II.

P.S. See also "sure as heck" which arises in texts the 1930s and "sure as shootin'" which is from the 1840s. These phrases are all very probably in use considerably earlier than their attestations in written texts.

  • That's not to mention 4350 written instances of sure as fuck. Okay, there are four times as many instances of sure as shit, but I think that might be misleading. Even if the coarser version were actually more common in real-world speech, it seems quite possible to me that many writers/editors might simply "tone it down" before going into print. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 15:27
  • I don't think an answer of "this means that" with one word changed is helpful. Especially since sure as hell and sure as shit mean the same thing.
    – Skooba
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 15:34

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