I searched for this and was surprised to hear that “dipped in shit” meant a measure of surprise.

I’ve always heard it used as being lucky or untouchable.

“I blew through that speed trap and as the cop started coming after me, another car crashed into him. I’m dipped in shit!”

  • Take it with a grain of salt, but there's this: books.google.com/…
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 10, 2019 at 2:18
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    Welcome to EL&U. You say you found that “dipped in shit” meant a measure of surprise. Where? Please edit your post to include the source and a link, so we can see for ourselves what it is you're basing your question on. This will make it easier for us to provide an authoritative answer. You might also like to read the guidance on How to Ask and take our EL&U Tour. :-) Sep 10, 2019 at 2:36
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    "I'll be dipped in shit" is an expression of surprise. I don't think that's the same thing as saying it's a measure of surprise. I suspect (but can't prove) that it's simply a metaphor: Being dipped in shit would be a surprising occurrence, and the expression is saying that whatever just happened is equally surprising.
    – The Photon
    Sep 10, 2019 at 4:09

3 Answers 3


"I'll be dipped," or the less polite "I'll be dipped in shit," meaning "I'm surprised," is most likely from the American South. One commentator, Sadie Smith, gives her personal experience in the Paris Review ("I Swear"):

It was then that he’d reach for the worst epithet of all: “I’ll be dipped.”

“I’ll be dipped”—said with a vehement emphasis on the last word that hinted at incipient violence, and with an Arkansas accent—was all the scarier because we weren’t sure what it meant. Sheep dip? Boiling oil? As a grown-up, I’ve heard it since in the South (or in its cruder form, “I’ll be dipped in shit!”) but it’s always a benign expression of surprise. Never does it convey the menace that my grandfather’s version did.

There are other reported variations. In Offense to Others (1984), Joel Feinberg compares it to "I'll be damned":

"I'll be damned" is very shopworn indeed, though it is still more effective than "I am surprised"; much better still is "I'll be dipped in a bucket of shit!"

Green's Dictionary of Slang has a first citation from 1961:

1961 G.L. Coon Meanwhile, Back at the Front (1962) 10: I'll be dipped in shit. I'll be the only man in history got a Purple Heart on the way to a whorehouse.

Given the context, it sounds like an Americanism that could date back to military use during the World Wars, and especially soldiers' creative capacity for colorful cussing.

  • To answer the OP directly, perhaps it should be made explicit that I'll be dipped in shit is an idiom whose meaning cannot be straightforwardly derived from that of dipped in shit, which considered by itself, is a fairly obvious metaphor. The contribution of I'll be to the idiom is probably the same, and as clear or unclear, as in I'll be damned.
    – jsw29
    Jan 24 at 16:53

"Well I'll be dipped in shit" was a line delivered to good effect by Slim Pickens in the 1967 film, "The Flim Flam Man," The movie was filmed in central KY, but the Greg Owns novel on which it was based was set in the NC lowcountry. The expression as he used it was of surprise with a measure of awe. I've heard it used all my life (I'm over 70) around my home in GA and have used it myself. More than once I've heard this expression used by a golfer reacting to hitting a hole-in-one


According to <www.merriam-webster.com>, the first known use of the slang epithet "dipshit", meaning a stupid or incompetent person, is 1963. I suspect a direct connection. I recall "I'll be dipped in shellac" as a sanitized version of "I'll be dipped in shit", from around that time.

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    You'd have a stronger answer if you could prove a direct connection. Jan 23 at 20:44

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