What is the origin of the phrase Shoot the Shit?
– Word Smith
Dear Mr. Smith,
The phrase Shoot the Shit most likely began as “shooting the bull” – early target boards were fashioned from barrel ends which were painted in black and white concentric circles resembling a bull’s eye – so historically when you gathered to Shoot the Bull, you were aiming for the Bull’s eye. Or your neighbor’s ass, and ass=shit!
Alternatively the phrase could have its origins in the expression Shooting the Breeze. According to those nerds over at WordWizards.com who pull overworked definitions like taffy: “When you talk the air is pushed out from within causing the air outside to move, or blow around, as a breeze.” Clearly this could be the precursor to shooting the shit, in which you expel a fart that mixes with the carbon in the air causing the release of an unsubstantiated thought pattern.
A more modern interpretation of the phrase is the belief that To Shoot the Shit refers to heroin usage, as in the case of Nirvana’s song Aneurysm:
Love you so much it makes me sick
Come on over and shoot the shit
But I prefer the Spanish translation: Darle La Lengua – To Give Tongue.