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Shitload
Posted: 08 October 2007 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Was this originally “shipload”?

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Posted: 08 October 2007 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I have always assumed:
assload => buttload => shitload

I have no evidence of this.  It just seems logical.

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Posted: 08 October 2007 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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"Shipload” is certainly cited in print first, but I see no particular reason for assuming that “shitload” arose from it, and the OED does not support such a derivation.

“Shitload” is cited from 1962, “assload” not at all, and “butt-load” is mentioned only once, from 1796, as an example of the dialect use of “butt” to mean a cart.  I think that the modern “assload” and “buttload” postdate “shitload” and might have arisen as euphemisms of it.

One might have expected an early sense of “ass-load” = as much as an ass (donkey) can carry, but the OED, at least, has no examples of this.  Edit: I did, however, find two mid-19th century examples at MOA.

[ Edited: 08 October 2007 10:49 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 08 October 2007 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I asked because there seems little logical reason why “shitload” should mean “a large amount”, whereas “shipload” obviously does and I thought that the original “shipload” might have been obscenitised (if there is such a word) into “shitload”.

How does the OED etymologise the word - as “shit” and “load”? Does it offer any therory as to how the meaning arose?

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Posted: 08 October 2007 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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How does the OED etymologise the word - as “shit” and “load”?
Yes.
Does it offer any therory as to how the meaning arose?
No.

Intensification by vulgarity/obscenity often makes no logical sense: “no fucking way”, “ugly-ass shoes”.

OTOH, one could rationalize it somewhat by observing that the value of a commodity is typically inversely proportional to the quantity one typically encounters.  You buy gravel by the ton but diamonds by the carat.  Although some kinds of shit have commercial value, in common expressions it’s treated as worthless ("ain’t worth shit") or worse.

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Posted: 08 October 2007 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Never heard the word “shitload”. What’s it mean, please? I see bayard connects it somehow with “shipload”. I understand “shipload” to mean “a quantity large enough to engage the full carrying capacity of a ship”. Could I take “shitload” to mean “a quantity large enough to engage the full carrying capacity of certain persons of my acquaintance”, --- my former boss, for instance?

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Posted: 08 October 2007 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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[Following are my interpretations only.]

(1) In some cases “shit-” can be taken to mean “shit”.

E.g.:

My car is a shitheap. = My car is a heap of shit.

I live in a shithole. = I live in a shitty hole.

(2) In some other cases “shit-” seems to mean approximately nothing but (I suppose) adds emphasis.

E.g.:

He had a shitfit. = He had a [real/big] fit. [Fit = ‘emotional outburst’ or so]

That’s shit-hot. = That’s [really] hot. [Hot = ‘excellent’/’great’ or so]

He has a shitload of money. = He has a [real/big] load of money. [Load = ‘large quantity’]

(3) I’m not sure about this one:

I ran into a shitstorm. ?= I ran into a [real/big] storm. OR ?= I ran into a storm of shit. [Storm = ‘violent/messy situation’ or so]

I suppose the dictionary should show both applications of “shit-”.

Note that the examples in group (1) above can also be construed as in group (2).

[ Edited: 08 October 2007 09:24 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 08 October 2007 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Rightpondia has a variant ‘Shed-load’ - derived from where the goods are stored or denoting that they fell off the back of a lorry.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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24450239 - 08 October 2007 10:24 PM

Rightpondia has a variant ‘Shed-load’ - derived from where the goods are stored or denoting that they fell off the back of a lorry.

Really? I always thought “shedloads” was simply a euphemism for “shitloads”, and had no hint of illegality ... British male culture, of course, places great emphasis on the shed, as a place of retreat from the hurly-burly of family life, though British garden sheds are traditionally stuffed full of everything from lawnmowers to bicycles to old tins of paint, making “shedloads” a great mental image (to me, anyway) ... a quick UK-only google gets 21,000 hits for shedloads, 11,500 for shitloads, FWIW.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I also think that shedloads is a euphemism for shitloads, which are cartloads of manure transported by farmers.  See here.  But that’s probably too simple an explanation for most people.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Having used the phrase ‘shitloads’ a lot as a teenager, IMHO the ‘shit’ part is just an intensifier as ‘loads’ carries the meaning of a lot of stuff (I’ve got loads of homework’ for example). Never crossed my mind that ‘shedloads’ could be a euphemism of it but you’re probably right Eliza.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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OED online says “< SHED n.2 + LOAD n., perh. as euphemistic alteration of SHITLOAD n.” so Eliza is in good company (as always) in entertaining that explanation.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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cartloads of manure transported by farmers

Nice image of what I’ve heard called a manure spreader. Never heard shitload used to refer to a load of shit. (The term a load of shit could be used literally or metaphorically.) A shitload has always been a huge amount of (something) whenever I heard it used. I grew up on a farm in rural California, and, I admit, it could be a regional thing. Is the DARE up to s yet?

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Posted: 10 October 2007 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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jheem - 10 October 2007 10:48 AM

cartloads of manure transported by farmers

Nice image of what I’ve heard called a manure spreader.

In the part of Somerset where I grew up, usually referred to as the “lavender wagon”.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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“lavender wagon”

Interesting. I’ve heard of honey wagon, but they were more for hauling sewage collected from porta potties.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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In Amsterdam they were called “boldootwagen” after a well-known brand of cologne.

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