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#1
Old 03-24-2013, 05:33 PM
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"Shit-eating grin" - origin?

How did the term shit-eating grin come about? I'm aware this might not have a specific answer but I just don't get how eating a turd would make you smile in a fake way.
#2
Old 03-24-2013, 05:44 PM
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I believe it's a reference to the kind of frozen smile you'd have on your face when you've been caught eating shit (or doing anything else that you're embarrassed to be caught doing).
#3
Old 03-24-2013, 05:45 PM
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Caution: this was asked and never answered more than ten years ago.

But yeah, I'd bet it comes down to more "big rueful grin" than "cat who ate the canary grin." The latter meaning seems to have pushed out the original, as I can only think of usages that conform to being very pleased with yourself.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 03-24-2013 at 05:47 PM.
#4
Old 03-24-2013, 05:51 PM
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I will forever associate a "shit-eating grin" with a shit-eating Divine (SFW) in Pink Flamingos.

ETA: Ninja-ed in the linked thread.

Last edited by I Made French Toast For You; 03-24-2013 at 05:53 PM.
#5
Old 03-24-2013, 05:51 PM
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Hm, I thought the implication was that the person grinning is stupid--so stupid that he grins like an idiot who doesn't understand that shit is disgusting.
#6
Old 03-24-2013, 06:14 PM
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I assume a shit-eating grin is what is being illustrated by Slug Signorino here.
#7
Old 03-24-2013, 06:30 PM
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What the OED has to say
Quote:
Originally Posted by OED
coarse slang (orig. U.S.).
1. Chiefly in shit-eating grin.


a. Designating a broad grin expressing uncontrollable delight or self-satisfaction, esp. characterized by awareness of having got away with something normally considered outrageous or improper; (also) designating a consciously disarming, self-deprecating, slightly cheeky grin, often used to deflect censure or disapproval.

[1949 Amer. Legion Mag. Sept. 61/1 This lad..brings with him wide blue eyes, a butch haircut, a shy, shingle-eating grin, and a firm conviction that no real bullets will be used.]
1956 J. Moffett in New World Writing No. 10. 16 You've got the most shit-eating grin I ever saw.
1958 Stack A Lee (typescript, Kinsey Inst.) 1 Another bitch looked at Stack with a shit eating smile And said, dont look like you've had any for quite awhile.
1967 N. Mailer Why are we in Vietnam? vii. 119 ‘I think this bear went from massive shock,’ said Big Luke, hardly able to hold back a massive shocker of a shit-eating grin.
1988 J. McInerney Story of my Life vi. 101 He's wearing his extraspecial shit-eating grin, the one that he gets after a blow job.
2000 Sydney Morning Herald (Nexis) 11 Jan. 6 A shit-eating smirk spread across Weasel's face.
2007 Kerrang! 2 June 29/2 ‘Did you enjoy the show?’ asks the shit-eating grin plastered all over his sweaty face, but not standing still long enough to wait for an answer.


b. Designating an ingratiating, uncomfortable, or forced smile, esp. in response to a humiliating experience.

1990 C. Hitchens in Nation 24 Dec. 794/2 Bush is there, flanked by his First Lady and by Senators Dole and Mitchell and Congressmen Foley and Michel, the last four of whom are wearing what used to be called shit-eating grins. Thus invested with the holy right to employ the word ‘bipartisan’, [etc.].
1995 Harper's Mag. Nov. 51/2 To describe the expression on Dole's face at this moment as a ‘shit-eating grin’ would be to imply that Dole is grinning; he is not. He is eating shit. And, as always, his true feelings show through: ‘I'm not perfect.’ He glares. ‘Maybe everybody here is.’
2009 Independent (Nexis) 31 Oct. 41 So you perspire heavily, smile the shit-eating grin of the publicly humiliated.


2. derogatory. Despicable, contemptible, worthless.

[1922 E. O'Neill Hairy Ape in Hairy Ape, Anna Christie, First Man 33 I'll cut yer guts out fer a nickel, yuh lousey boob, yuh dirty, crummy, muck-eatin' son of a ——.]
1956 G. Griffin Scorpion on Stone 60 Dirty little toffee-nosed f—ck face of a shit-eating officer what thinks he knows everything.
1972 J. Wambaugh Blue Knight vi. 84 You're a filthy, shit-eating pig.
1983 Playboy Dec. 292/3 No more Monday-night football. The season is over. No more Howard Cosell and no more of that shit-eating lunatic with the rainbow-striped Afro wig.
1996 M. Syal Anita & Me (1997) xiii. 301 He's a pig. A thick shit-eating pig.
#8
Old 03-24-2013, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Hm, I thought the implication was that the person grinning is stupid--so stupid that he grins like an idiot who doesn't understand that shit is disgusting.
This is closer to the connotation in every case where I've ever heard it used. It's a grin that is smug, totally self-satisfied, and foolish. It's a "foolish grin."

It's the sort of grin that makes you want to go up to the guy and yell "Eat shit" at him, to wipe the damn thing off his face.
#9
Old 03-24-2013, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Hm, I thought the implication was that the person grinning is stupid--so stupid that he grins like an idiot who doesn't understand that shit is disgusting.
Kinda my impression as well. I imagine a wide-eyed stare along with the grin.
#10
Old 03-24-2013, 08:21 PM
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I doubt this is the origin, but whenever I hear the expression I think of a dog who's found the litter box.
#11
Old 03-24-2013, 09:23 PM
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Asked twice by me (once as a topic and once in another topic) if you want to read past replies. Both times had a few answers.
#12
Old 03-25-2013, 01:31 AM
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OED cite for 2009. Presumably on-line--I didn't know that it thus has a variable cut-off date for citations.
#13
Old 03-25-2013, 02:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Made French Toast For You View Post
I will forever associate a "shit-eating grin" with a shit-eating Divine (SFW) in Pink Flamingos.

ETA: Ninja-ed in the linked thread.
Coprophagia has been around for a long time. For recent examples check your local Internet.
#14
Old 03-25-2013, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I doubt this is the origin, but whenever I hear the expression I think of a dog who's found the litter box.
I always thought something like that was the origin. I've seen the shit eating grin on dogs.
#15
Old 03-25-2013, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
What the OED has to say
Quote:
a. Designating a broad grin expressing uncontrollable delight or self-satisfaction, esp. characterized by awareness of having got away with something normally considered outrageous or improper; (also) designating a consciously disarming, self-deprecating, slightly cheeky grin, often used to deflect censure or disapproval.

...

b. Designating an ingratiating, uncomfortable, or forced smile, esp. in response to a humiliating experience.
I have always used it as definition "a.," but on these boards, I encounter definition "b." quite a bit.
#16
Old 03-25-2013, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
I have always used it as definition "a.," but on these boards, I encounter definition "b." quite a bit.
Nicely put, I don't mean that in a brown nosing way.
#17
Old 03-25-2013, 06:24 PM
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I've always associated it with children. They get caught doing something they know is wrong (like eating shit - kids literally put everything in their mouths), but try to deflect punishment by both looking as cute as possible and illustrating how happy their bad choice has made them.
#18
Old 03-26-2013, 07:36 AM
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There's also the related (I assume) phrase 'Grinned like a fox eating shit off a (wire) brush' which I first encountered in Merlin by Robert Nye.
My image of both phrases is of someone gingerly touching a turd to their teeth, while desparately trying to keep their lips away from it. Not actually a grin, but a weird expression a bit like an extreme one.
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