View Full Version : What is the origin of the phrase "Shit-eating grin?"

Albert Rose
08-30-2002, 08:39 PM
I don't understand how smiling and eating feces can be linked. How did this expression originate?

Johnny L.A.
08-30-2002, 08:48 PM
WAG alert!

Someone will be along who actually looked this up, but I'll take a stab in the dark and see if anyone screams.

Eating shit is something that "just isn't done". If someone did (yes, I know about Pink Flamingoes and scat fetishes), then he would have gotten away with something. Having gotten away with an "evil deed", the perpetrator would no doubt feel a certain smugness and have an "I got away with something big" grin on his face. Hence, the "shit-eating grin". Compare: "Smiling like the cat who swallowed the canary."

08-31-2002, 12:31 AM
My father always says "grinning like a 'possum eating shit"; the two phrases are likely related.

08-31-2002, 12:54 AM
Dogs. When ever we yell at my girlfriends dog while it is eating shit it looks up at us and gives THAT grin. Priceless.

And you wondered why Lucy always went ballistic about dog germs.

08-31-2002, 01:17 AM
But here's my WAG....

Eating a turd is not something someone would willingly do, so if a guy put a gun to your head, and said you had to eat some shit, you would most likely do it gingerly, that is, bite down just a little bit and hope the guy let you off without having to swallow.

To see what this looks like, fix yourself a hamburger, and put a piece in your mouth and get in front of a mirror. Now pretend it's some shit and a guy's got a gun to your head. See how you're spacing those teeth out? Looks like a smile, don't it? Well, that's what a shit-eating grin looks like. Hypothetically speaking, of course!

:D (this, for instance )


08-31-2002, 01:55 AM
On second thought, forget the hamburger. Use a hot dog instead.


08-31-2002, 07:11 AM
Uh ... Looks like we've got two contradictory meanings for the phrase. To me, it has always meant an expression of victory, but it seems at least one person uses it to mean an expression of submission.

08-31-2002, 07:56 AM
My theory is that you nave to be nuts to eat shit, and someone that nuts would probably grin while doing it.

Bryan Ekers
08-31-2002, 09:30 AM
In keeping with Kat's father's possum variant, there are mammals that consume their own feces routinely. This class of animals is known as hindgut fermenters (http://web.utk.edu/~amathew/845-R1.html). Essentially, they consume cellulose (wood, grass, etc) and are dependant on bacteria within the animal's digestive system to fully metabolize it. The hindgut fermenters have their bacterial colonies after their stomachs (as opposed to foregut fermenters, who have their bacterial symbiotes before the stomach). For the animal to get as much energy as possible out of a cellulose diet, they have to root among their feces and find the already partially digested plant matter, and eat it again.

Since many of the hindgut fermenters are rodents (especially beavers, though apparantly not possums), one can vaguely imagine a big toothy grin-like expression as yesterday's meal is munched down for the second time.

Ah, the wonders of the Discovery Channel...

08-31-2002, 09:49 AM
In Book XXI of his History of Rome, Livy describes a Carthaginian sect of coprophages, the risus faecivorus, or shit-eating grin, being commonly displayed by its adherents.