When “shit” began…

The history and origin of the word “shit”

Yo ho ho and a bag of manure
BACK in the salty seafaring days of the 16th and 17th centuries, just about everything was transported by ship. However, such times were also before the greatly appreciated invention of commercial fertilisers. In those days fertiliser was simply manure – i.e. pooh – and large shipments of manure roaming the seas were common – no questions asked.

It was shipped dry – as manure is known to be about 10 tons lighter when it’s dry (prod a dry and a wet cow pat to check for yourself). Yet water usually seeped into ships at sea, which not only made the manure on board heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, which (as we all know) produces methane gas as a by-product. As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can imagine what could (and did) happen. Methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern…

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined just what was happening. After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the term ‘Ship High In Transit’ as a reminder for sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold Lets pillagewould not touch this volatile cargo and start the production of methane.

Thus evolved the term ‘ S.H.I.T ‘ , (Ship High In Transit) which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day. I’ll bet you didn’t know that? Well now you do.

“I had always thought it was a golf term.”

PS: If you feel all smart after reading that I’m sorry to tell you that I was only kidding. This is a hoax e-mail that has been doing its rounds for about 10 years now. Although it’s a damn good one it’s sadly not true – so you can feel smart knowing that. You’re not bummed are you?

Similar post: The drunk and the blonde

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Galen (name), meaning: "Curious One". A lover of language, human ingenuity and the forces of the universe. Hugely drawn towards the mysterious and unknown. Regular laughter and escapism essential.

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