Washington Examiner (April 27) carries an article titled “Pelosi: GOP will have 'doo-doo' on its shoes if Obamacare repeal," in which she argues;

“I think President Trump is really making fools of the members of Congress, of his own party. He's asking them to vote for a bill that is wildly unpopular in the country, is the wrong thing to do first and foremost. It's going to be doo-doo stuck to their shoe for a long time to come with terrible consequences for the American questions."


Though I cannot find “doo-doo” in Oxford Advanced English Leaners Dictionary at hand, Kenkyusha’s English Japanese Dictionary gives definition of “doo” as (slang) pee, crap.

Does “doo-doo stuck to one’s shoe” mean an indelible and foul stain? Is it a popular phrasing? What are easier and more decent alternatives to “doo-doo stuck to one’s shoe”?

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    Just type "define doo-doo" in your browser's address box. Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    "Doo-doo" means, "poop", "shit", "crap", et al. The stuff you step in when you're not careful where you walk.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 22:24
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    If doo doo isn't normally listed in English dictionaries (I haven't checked) then it can't be a common expression. Using the Internet gives everyone the advantage of looking in several online dictionaries and thesauruses. Not having the OALD at hand is not an excuse to look up the term.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 23:01
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    President George H.W. Bush used the term "doo-doo." I think he said something about "deep doo-doo." It is a common slang phrase. It harks back to childhood.
    – Xanne
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 1:37
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    @Mari-LouA - I can guarantee you that it's quite common on elementary school playgrounds.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 2:13

7 Answers 7


"Doo-doo stuck on one's shoe" is a metaphor. If you are out walking and happen to step on a piece of the path that a dog has decided to foul you will find yourself with 'doo-doo' stuck on your shoe.

'doo-doo' is not easy to clean off your shoe. So you may find you are stuck with the foul stench and unhygienic extra material on the sole of your shoe until you are able to properly take your shoes off and wash them thoroughly.

That's the point the author is making with this base metaphor.

If congress vote for a bill that is wildly unpopular in the country, the fact they voted for it will be attached to them. It will affect their reputation and perhaps even conscience in much the same way 'doo doo' contaminates the environment of someone if they have happened to get it stuck to the soles of their shoes.


Doo-doo in this context means shit, no more and no less.

A person who steps in shit and can't get it off their shoe are likely to continue to find themselves in embarrassing situations - on the bus, on the elevator, pretty much anywhere where there are people around who'd be likely to be looking at the owner of the shit-stained shoe strangely.

Doo-doo is what kids (and their parents) call shit, imagining it's "less offensive" than the actual word. It is a euphemism.

Other euphemisms include poo, poo-poo, poop, ca-ca, etc.

The euphemism for a shithead is an alternatively intelligent person.

There is also a bunch of semi-euphemisms, including "feces" and "excrement."

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    I think that precisely because "doo-doo" is a juvenial term, it actually adds insult by chiding them as if they were children.
    – Tom22
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 0:52
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    Some might say that "shit" is a dysphemism for dung, feces, or excrement. "Shit" is not a word that is used in formal writing, the other three are.
    – Theresa
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 3:22
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    @Theresa: Queen Victoria has been dead for over a century now. One might as well revisit the whole idea of "formal writing." While "shit" is a perfectly legitimate word, "doo-doo" is downright disgusting. As for what "some might say": the word "shit" is very old. Something like a thousand years old. As opposed to Latinate "medical" nonsense and childish nonsense.
    – Ricky
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 4:48
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    @Ricky: Condescending, much? "Shit" is very old; still it would be the kiss of death to put "shit" into a legal brief or into a doctoral dissertation. This is English Language and Usage, the writer is from Japan. He deserves to know exactly this sort of usage nuance.
    – Theresa
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 8:17
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    @Ricky That's quite simply incorrect. Most crude words become crude because they're words for something that speakers find taboo. What is considered taboo changes, and the ‘powers that be’ generally have little to do with it. Puritans and Victorians had some influence, but nothing compared to traditional superstition and taboo. Dick and cock are both euphemisms as well, just older ones. And in a language like English it's untenable nonsense that an inherited root is always preferable. Or do you seriously send your children to the lorehouse to take proofs? Commented May 3, 2017 at 6:20

I am going to answer only the last part of the OP's question, because the other answers did not address:

What are easier and more decent alternatives to “doo-doo stuck to one’s shoe”?

Let's put politics firmly aside. I venture to say that most people will not find the phrase indecent. Earthy, yes, but not indecent. One of the definitions of earthy in Dictionary.com is "coarse or unrefined".

As for an alternative, Pelosi could have said:

they will wear a scarlet letter on their suit jackets for a long time

but then very few would have understood her, and many of those think Hester Prynne was admirable.

In the context of strong partisan politics, doo-doo on their shoes hits the right note.

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    Another saying that might convey a lingering dis-favorable impression is "this is going to haunt them" .
    – Tom22
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 23:07

Literally, the phrase means that someone will have stepped in a pile of excrement.

In a country where a significant portion of people have driven by a farm (in a car), visited a farm, worked on a farm, or lived on a farm (small or large), the phrase evokes the feeling of disgust and dismay for everyone involved. First, the person who has stepped in the excrement has the visceral reaction to the accident of smooshing their foot down into the pile, leaving a clear mark of the sole of their shoe in the now-flattened pile. Second, everyone who comes into contact with the person (before they can change clothing and bathe) will be confronted with the aggressive, lingering smell of the mistake.

People who have strictly lived in cities may also have specific sense memory of this situation since cities use horses on roads for parades (on occasion) and horse-drawn carriages. Horses will defecate on the roads in these processes. Certainly, most native speakers are familiar with the phrase "horseshit", a particular brand of "shit" (which is a crass but generally acceptable euphemism for excrement, especially in the moment of accidentally stepping in it). The wheels of the aforementioned carriages may also go through such piles on accident.

However, the phrase in this particular evocation of that sense memory is awkward in my opinion. A possible explanation for this is that certain words on television in the United States of America are prohibited (at certain specified times; see the Federal Communications Commission's statement here: Obscene, Indecent and Profane Broadcasts) and carry with them a fine to the broadcaster. If less of them are prohibited now, that does not mean that they were not prohibited historically. Furthermore, this is how someone might talk to a child. The idea may be that saying "shit" around a child may encourage that child to begin using it frequently (since it is likely to get a reaction from people hearing it out of the mouth of a child).

The phrase "doo-doo" is also a replacement for "shit". To a native speaker, replacements such as this for obscene words and phrases ("swear words", "curse words", "cussing", etc.) may sound awkward. The level of awkwardness may be in the range of "at least a little ridiculous" to "absolutely ridiculous". There are some examples of this phenomenon here: Cursing Without Cursing. The part at the end of that video makes a callback to the somewhat nonsensical reason for why this even exists in the first place, but, since these are movie clips, they're fictional (and may be meant to parody the situation the language finds itself in).

  • dog doo is a particular kind of shit ... and while you certainly touch on that a little bit I think the distinction between dog-doo and horse shit is a big one. The stickiness and difficulty of ridding your shoes of the smell is significant. ALSO, the child-like essence of "dog-do" carries some extra insult, implying that not only they were in the shit but associates them with kindergartners.
    – Tom22
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 0:30
  • Certainly. I'd be inclined to use "dogshit". It's representation in society (apartment complex rules, home owner's association rules, etc.) would very likely opt for an overly non-offensive replacement like that or "dookie". The existence of such rules may be due to how gross an experience stepping in it can be. An example rule: you must clean up after your pet when you walk them in public spaces or in neighboring lawns. I bring this up because I definitely missed "walking your dog" in the explanation. I also didn't do a good job of expressing how often a prominent politician might be on TV.
    – lirmont
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 0:58
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    You don't need to have lived, worked or visited a farm to know about accidentally stepping in dog poop.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 6:55
  • Great source. Yes, I missed that lived experience as a basis for my example. Thinking on it, I may have answered based on my interpretation of the magnitude of the crap I thought the quote intended to convey. Conjecture on my part. The sound, fury, and inaction in the source may be more fitting. Perhaps the metaphor will be apt, but I bet it will be hyperbole.
    – lirmont
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 8:05

An albatross hung from one's neck. An emblem of shame for the sailor who shot the albatross, which was an indicator of good luck while alive. From "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"


Another alternative that conveys the same meaning here might be:

The stink of Republican's attempt to pass a bad health care bill will follow them for a long time.

Interestingly, this has both the same literal and figurative meaning as "doo-doo stuck to their shoe".

Pelosi point wasn't just that their health care bill was (merely) a bad idea, but that it was so bad that the poor public opinion of that bill will continue to follow Republicans around in the same way that the foul odor follows you around after you've stepped in dog poop.

  • best answer. alt: a stink they will not be able to perfume.
    – user175542
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 21:31
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    Nice answer. I would say though, I'm not sure about the same meaning. A smell (alone) is not toxic it's just unpleasant, whereas 'doo doo' on a shoe is potentially toxic matter. I think there's something lost by reducing the metaphor simply to a bad smell. (e.g. - askabiologist.org.uk/answers/viewtopic.php?id=285)
    – Gary
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 9:39

It means it's a smelly nuisance that has no value and keeps you from continuing in your path without encumbrance.

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