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Recently, in comments, I noticed someone used the phrase get shut of meaning to be done with.

I've always understood the phrase to be get shed of with the same meaning.

He was happy to get shut of his annoying little brother.

He was happy to get shed of his annoying little brother.

TFD lists shed of as an idiom. It also lists shut of giving identical examples of usage.

And, Google searches return multiple hits, but seem to prefer shut of.

The expression seems to be more prevalent in BrE. One site even suggested that get shot of is becoming an Americanism.

Is this usage of shut as an adjective prevalent in BrE to mean rid of? Or is it an archaic usage only persistent in this expression?

I don't see an adjective listed for shed in the same way. But, we use it adjectivally:

He collected the shed scales of his pet snake.

This is the ngram result (thanks Hot Licks for pointing out my error in running it the first time).

ngram

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  • I've always heard it pronounced "get shit of".
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 15, 2019 at 1:18
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    @HotLicks Not sure if you’re serious, but that didn’t come up in any of my research. I can certain see the way the usage would have evolved, though.
    – David M
    Oct 15, 2019 at 1:20
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    shed of is much > than shut of in AmE.
    – lbf
    Oct 15, 2019 at 2:54
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    'get shut of' and 'get shot of' are reasonably commonly used in Northern England to mean get rid of. Oct 15, 2019 at 14:42
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    @HotLicks "I've always heard it pronounced "get shit of"" Interesting - OED Shut (v.) Etymology: Old English scyttan [...]< prehistoric skuttjan, .... The normal representation of Old English scyttan would be shit; down to the 16th cent. this was the prevailing form, though the Kentish shette (used by Chaucer and Gower) was also very common. The modern form appears to have been originally West Midland.
    – Greybeard
    Aug 13, 2020 at 17:59

4 Answers 4

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According to the Phrase Finder, “get shut of” meaning get rid of is an obsolete expression:

To get shut of something does seem to be a rather old expression, and more a dialectal than a mainstream one, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which I quote with all its citations.

From the OED:

" 11. a. To set (a person) free from, relieve of (something troublesome). Obs[olete] exc[ept] in passive (dial. and colloq.) to be, get shut of, (dial.) shut on, to shut one's hands of: to be rid of, free from; also ellipt[ical].

?a1500 Chester Pl. II. 31 Though he have healed thee, Shute from us shall he not be. Ibid. 33 To shutte hym of his dangere.

1575-6 Durham Depos. (Surtees) 312 This examinate promised..that he

wold marye the said Grace..so that he might be shutt of the promiseshe hadd maid to one Marian Raic.

1737 WHISTON Josephus, Antiq. XIV. i. 3 His own life would be in danger, unless he..got shut of Aristobulus. 1827 J. F. COOPER Prairie

1848 MRS. GASKELL Mary Barton I. v. 68 As for a bad man, one's glad enough

1914 D. H. LAWRENCE Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd III. 84 Who dost think wor

1976 S. BARSTOW Right True End I. iv. 65 'I haven't got her.' 'You're well shut, from all I hear.'"

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    I always thought it was 'get shot of'. Interesting. Oct 15, 2019 at 6:31
  • What about shot of or shed of? Is there any more common usage of these? I've definitely heard the expression and saw it used in comments on this site, though I cannot remember where.
    – David M
    Oct 15, 2019 at 14:21
  • Get/be shot of is present in dictionaries such as: google.com/amp/s/www.macmillandictionary.com/amp/dictionary/… - it does not appears to be an obsolete usage. BrE btw.
    – user 66974
    Oct 16, 2019 at 7:56
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I have heard what I take to be archaic English expressions in the rural South USA. One example is "get shed of" , which I first heard in rural Alabama circa 1974 (having just moved there). This sort of preservation of archaic or dialectal forms in "outlying" areas is well attested. I recently heard "get shut of" on some medium of communication and asked myself whether the s-word variations ( shed, shut, shot) were born of mis-hearing.

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My grandfather in Western Kentucky always said 'get shed of that... '. He had a few of those old terms. His ancestry was Welsh Irish Scottish. Another one was 'drene the water out of it'.

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The "shut" origin makes sense. There good many southern dialect words in which the short U sound changes to a short e. Besides SHUT-SHET, there are BRUSH-BRESH, and TOUCH-TETCH (as in "tetched in the head"). Linguists would have a name for that vowel-sound shift, I suppose.

Of course, our American T pronunciation being as it is, "Get shet of" would sound indistinguishable from "Get shed of." (Think, for example of the middle consonant sound of "city" and "giddy," "lady" and "Katy").

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