So I was watching The Simpsons just before, the episode being "Fraudcast News". At the end of the episode many Springfield residents follow in Lisa's footsteps and start to print their own newspapers. Willie says that he reviews all the new tractors in his, 'and they're all shite!' Curiously, "shite" wasn't bleeped or edited out, which made me wonder, is "shite" really a swear word?

(For the record, the epsiode was a recording from FOX, just in case they have their own "swear word hierarchy".)


It is a vulgar, possibly offensive term:


  • colloquial modern alternative spelling of shit (n.), preserving the original vowel of the Old English verb. (Etymonline)

Shite ‎(plural shites)

  • (Britain, Ireland, vulgar) Shit, trash, rubbish.
  • (Britain, Ireland, pejorative) A foolish or deceitful person. He's a useless shite. (Wiktionary)

From Not One-Off Britishisms, Shite:

  • Excrement; shit. I have always thought of this word as having a strong Irish association, though the OED is silent on the subject. In the U.S., it is used exclusively metaphorically, that is, to mean that something is worthless, offensive or contemptible. One definition on Urban Dictionary recognizes shite‘s slightly euphemistic quality, calling it “the best way to say ‘shit’ without getting told off, as you can simply say that you were trying out being Irish for the day. ”

  • And [former New York Times Editor Howell] Raines all but comes out and writes that his predecessor, Joseph Lelyveld, produced shite. (Jack Shafer, Slate, March 24, 2004)/“We’re getting hammered by everything right now,” says Bert the Bug Man (a.k.a. Bert Bertrand, a licensed exterminator). “Smoky brown tree roaches are coming out of the sewer lines to hang in people’s foliage because people are trying to keep their plants alive.” So we’re not producing enough shite in this drought?? (Houston Post, blog post, June 21, 2011)



'Shite' is Scots or Irish slang for the obvious equivalent, although its usage is pretty widespread all over Britain and Ireland, not just by those of Scots or Irish origin. Pronounced like kite would be in whatever British or Irish accent you speak with and used just as the ordinary word is (oh shite, that's a shite situation, this job is a pile of shite, etc.). But I think it's only used as a swear word rather than normal vulgarity; I've never heard anyone say I need to take a shite, for instance.


  • 1
    I've heard people say "I need to take a shite"... – Bekahland Jan 28 '16 at 11:13
  • We say that quite often in Scotland. – John Clifford Jan 28 '16 at 12:31
  • @JohnClifford - Do you take one or leave one? – iMerchant Nov 3 '17 at 1:18
  • @iMerchant I suppose technically both. We take a shite, and one is left. :P – John Clifford Nov 3 '17 at 10:51

Bryan Cranston used the word recently (July 2017) during a live interview on U.K. Morning television. He was I think actually trying to be polite and using an American public alternative to the word without an "e". It is necessary these days for Americans to be excessively polite in their use of language to highlight the contrast with their politicians in the White House.

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