I don’t know what exactly the like + the + noun + you are structure stands for. In a movie I watched (Fallen Angels, 1996), the main character cursed someone by saying:

I will flush you down the pan like the shit you are.

I don’t know what she meant by that, and would like to learn what it is.

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    add your research for "like the shit you are". – lbf Jul 6 '18 at 15:15
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    I actually googled it before asking, but there wasn’t a single post about this structure :/ – Mingyao Jul 6 '18 at 15:41
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    @lbf googling gives hits of the same quote but without any grammar discussion. What did you intend by suggesting a search? – Mitch Jul 6 '18 at 16:07
  • 'You are shit' and 'I will flush you down the pan' are combined in the extended (though made rather messy by the switch to a simile) metaphor 'I will flush you down the pan like the shit you are.' – Edwin Ashworth Jul 6 '18 at 16:13

This is not an idiom. Its meaning is made up directly of the elements it is made of. But the construction and vocabulary may have confused things.

More explicitly:

'like the shit you are' <- 'like the shit that you are'

A certain event may happen, namely flushing down the pan... (a pan is not usually used for flushing, that is the one thing I don't get about this sentence. A toilet is what one usually what one flushes things down.)

So this event, the flushing may happen. How does it happen? It happens like something else, that is like flushing. Often one flushes shit. 'Like' here is the preposition that is for metaphors/similes. They are saying that you are like shit, or really that you are shit, and comparing the flushing of you to this shit, which you are.

Putting the 'that you are' at the end doesn't really add much meaning, it just lengthens the insult and puts the emphasis interestingly. To give a different example with the same syntax but different vocabulary:

That woman acts confidently, like the politician that she is.

Same structure, different nouns/adjectives.

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    Isn't "pan" slang for toilet? A typical flush toilet is a ceramic bowl (pan) connected on the "up" side to a cistern (tank) that enables rapid filling with water, (Wiki) – Mari-Lou A Jul 6 '18 at 16:14
  • @Mari-LouA I've never heard of 'pan' before as slang for a toilet (AmE). And it didn't evoke 'bedpan' for me. – Mitch Jul 6 '18 at 17:05
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    "Down the pan" is BrE, certainly. See Oxford 1.3 – Andrew Leach Jul 6 '18 at 17:26

It roughly stands for, "like [one does with] the shit [that] you are". So it means, "like we do with shit, because that's what you are".

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  • Thank you so much for your quick and accurate answer ^. ^ I still don’t know how to use it, but at least now I know what it means. – Mingyao Jul 6 '18 at 15:42
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    I think "the shit" (and not "the shits" which carries positive connotations) stands for.... the [piece of] shit [that] you are... – Mari-Lou A Jul 6 '18 at 15:54

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