Bullshit

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Bullshit (also bullcrap, bullplop, bullbutter, bovine stool) is a common American English expletive which may be shortened to the euphemism bull or the initialism B.S. In British English, "bollocks" is a comparable expletive, although bullshit is now commonly used in British English as well. As with many expletives, it can be used as an interjection or as many other parts of speech, and can carry a wide variety of meanings. Most commonly, it is a noun or interjection that refers to any use of misleading, disingenuous, or false language. While the word is generally used in a deprecating sense, it may imply a measure of respect for language skills, or frivolity, among various other benign usages. In philosophy, Harry Frankfurt, among others, analysed the concept of bullshit as related to but distinct from lying.

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Etymology

"Bull", meaning nonsense, dates from the 17th century[1], while the term "bullshit" has been used as early as 1915 in American slang,[2] and came into popular usage only during World War II. The word "bull" itself may have derived from the Old French boul meaning "fraud, deceit" (Oxford English Dictionary)[2]. The term "horseshit" is a near synonym.

The earliest attestation mentioned by the Concise Oxford English Dictionary is in fact T. S. Eliot, who between 1910 and 1916 wrote an early poem to which he gave the title "The Triumph of Bullshit", written in the form of a ballade. The first stanza goes:

Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited
If you consider my merits are small
Etiolated, alembicated,
Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,
Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,
Impotent galamatias
Affected, possibly imitated,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

The word bullshit does not appear in the text of the poem, though in keeping with the ballade form, the refrain "For Christ's sake stick it up your ass" appears in each following verse and concludes the envoi. Eliot did not publish this poem during his lifetime.[3]

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