Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bullshit n.

also bull
[fig. use of SE bull + shit n., i.e. bull dung]

1. nonsense, lies.

Dly Gaz. (Las Vegas, NM) 12 Sept. 1: Special Agent Adams came in from Denver yesterday and last night arrested B– S– Jack, Slap Jack Bill, both noted characters, and a man named Webb at a saloon on the east side.
[UK]W. Lewis in Rose Letters of Wyndham Lewis (1963) 66: Eliot has sent me Bullshit and the Ballad for Big Louise. They are excellent bits of scholarly ribaldry.
[US]E.E. Cummings Enormous Room (1928) 194: When we asked him once what he thought about the war, he replied, ‘I t’ink lotta bullsh-t,’ which, upon copious reflection, I decided absolutely expressed my own point of view.
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 246: Dot’s a lodda bullshit, Pedey.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 340: I’m not political, that’s bullshit, everything’s bullshit.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 48: You’re talking absolute bullshit.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 125: I don’t believe a God-damned word of that bullshit.
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 68: Money talks – bullshit walks.
[Ire]P. Boyle All Looks Yellow to the Jaundiced Eye 103: Pure bull and a yard wide, but the melody caught me by the throat and made me gulp.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 10: That ain’t nothing but bullshit ya keep kickin’ back and forth.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 145: It had started out to be rhapsodic bullshit, but on finishing I felt that the whole fabric of lies contained some intrinsic truth.
[Aus]B. Ellem Doing Time app. C 243: I don’t like people [...] big-noting themselves, and trying to be big-time. It’s all bullshit.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Phantom Blooper 189: Man, you are so out of date, even your bullshit is bullshit.
[Aus]G. Disher Paydirt [ebook] ‘If there’s any bullshit [...] we hit hard and fast’.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 188: No way am I taking any bullshit fae the likes of Drummond.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 9 Aug. 1: That’s what’s happening here, the same old hippie bullshit.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Wind & Monkey (2013) [ebook] Warren reckoned she was just plain frustrated and under all the feminist bullshit she’d kill for a root.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 151: There was a lot of bullshit, man. There was so much turmoil in the air.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] The whole idea of ‘auras’ was so much new age bullshit.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 301: [T]he story was bullshit. It was a bullshit story.
[UK]K. Richards Life 58: Rock and roll [...] no bullshit, no violins and ladies’ choruses and schmaltz.
[UK]Guardian 18 Dec. 18/1: It’s been a marvellous year for bullshit .
[US]S.M. Jones August Snow [ebook] ‘Church is exactly the place for bullshit’.
[Aus]C. Hammer Scrublands [ebook] ‘It’s bullshit, but people believe what they want to believe’.
[US]D. Winslow ‘The San Diego Zoo’ in Broken 118: ‘The key to talking to the media is bullshit, then some more bullshit, then conclude by sprinkling some bullshit on the bullshit’.
[Ire]P Howard Braywatch 362: ‘I’m calling bullshit on that’.
[Aus]A. Nette Orphan Road 33: [H]er debauched sense of humour, and intolerance for bullshit.

2. (also bull manure) rubbish, anything second-rate or useless.

[UK]E. Pound letter 14 Feb. in Read Letters to James Joyce (1968) 25: I enclose a prize sample of bull shit.
[US]E. Hemingway letter 16 Dec. in Baker Sel. Letters (1981) 425: In talk you can winnow out the bullshit which we put so pontifically when we write literary letters.
[US]W. Guthrie Bound for Glory (1969) 383: They want ya ta sing pure ol’ bull manure an’ nothin else.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 124: I doan want any bible-bashing bastard who’s never seen me before mumblin’ any bull— over me.
[UK]K. Amis letter 9 June in Leader (2000) 556: This is just the official bullshit – thanks anyway for your stuff.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 27: All those lights, sure you think theyre Pretty [...] It’s bullshit — got the same fuckin lights in New Orleans.
[US]C. White Life and Times of Little Richard (1985) 129: I didn’t accept that kind of bullshit.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 78: S’all bullshit out there nowadays [...] Nothing but got-damn chemicals. Ain’t been no real dope out here for ten years.
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 15: Yuppie balconies on the opposite bank laden with Ikea bullshit.

3. an object or task that is seen as annoying, irritating or ‘nonsense’.

[UK]‘J.H. Ross’ Mint (1955) 85: He knew my painstaking was a defiant judgement upon himself. ‘You’re good at bull-shit,’ he wheezed [...] ‘now come and set out my knives and forks.’ [Ibid.] 88: ‘Proper bull-shit,’ grumbled Lofty when made to Silvo his boot-blacking tin till it simulated silver. Bull-shit it was.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Swag, the Spy and the Soldier in Lehmann Penguin New Writing No. 26 56: Parades and bullshit got on his wick.
[Aus]‘Bullshit’ in Mess Songs & Rhymes of the RAAF 23: Bullshit, it doesn’t mean a thing to us, / Bullshit, who cares if Airborne makes a fuss.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]G. Pelecanos Right As Rain 161: Franklin pointed a lazy finger at the unit. ‘Uh-uh. Turn that bullshit off or I walk away.’.
[Aus]L. Redhead Rubdown [ebook] I told you to stay away from this bullshit.
[SA]Constitutionally Speaking 29 Oct. 🌐 Obvious bull manure, the poor die, the rich get laid and live.

4. showing off.

[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 31: Heyes front! Bags of bullshit! Show these bloody Wogs they’ve got the Mendips here!

5. an argument.

[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 72: Okay, Willy. Forget our little bullshit.
[US]R. Price Blood Brothers 2: If he gave Tommy any bullshit he would get a flick behind the ear that would sting like a bastard.

6. (US drugs) marijuana.

[US](con. 1969) M. Herr Dispatches 131: We can smoke some bullshit.

7. used metonymically to characterize a person.

[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 232: His voice took a deep dive until he sounded just like his big bullshit of an old man.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘To Hull and Back’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] I’ve just had a very interesting conversation with Chief Inspector Slater, you know bullshit of the yard.

In derivatives

bullshittiness (n.)

nonsensical quality, insubstantiality.

[US]I. Fitzgerald Dirtbag, Massachusetts 83: She weighed the bullshittiness of my sotry against my very impessive pratfall.

In compounds

bullshit artist (n.) (also b.a., b.s. artist, bullshit artiste, …merchant, ...thrower) [ -artist sfx/merchant n.]

anyone with a good line of persuasive, if insincere patter.

[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 71: Conn was the b.s. artist from way back.
[US]D.R. Morris China Station 37: Name Ah Yuan Age You name it Occupation Bullshit artist Address Doubtful.
[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to The Hill (1966) 173: Redmond, the king of the all-time bullshit artists.
[US]M. Scorsese Mean Streets [film script] 21: You are [...] the biggest, most pretentious bullshit thrower I know.
[US]Maledicta 1 (Summer) 14: If he is fundamentally dishonest and a liar to boot, he’s a bullshitter, or a bullshit artist (B.A.).
[Aus]Lette & Carey Puberty Blues 115: Look at Lorraine Peck. The bullshit artist [...] She doesn’t hit up you know. She just scratches herself and coughs, the rag.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 191: A performing artist, a bullshit artist, something of a piss artist, and a considerable sack artist.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 3 Jan. 11/3: Both are prize bullshit artists blessed with effortless reserves of charm.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 200: The only ones who are in clover are the bullshit artists.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Where I Get My Weird Shit’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 40: I put the art in bullshit artiste.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 14: Greasy sleazebag bullshit merchant.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] ‘It’s terrific to finally meet you. Simone talks about you all the time.’ No I didn’t. What a bullshit artist.
[Aus]G. Gilmore Base Nature [ebook] ‘You’re a bullshit merchant, but you don’t mean me no harm’.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 89: She is [...] the fantasist and premier bullshit artist of our time.
Bullshit Castle (n.)

(N.Z.) Air Force headquarters, then subseq. Parliament.

[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 37: Bullshit Castle Air Force headquarters, in the perception of our WWII airmen, applied frequently ever since to Parliament.

In phrases

no-bullshit (adj.) [sense 1 above]


[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Whoreson 235: Stella had given me an outright, no-bullshit choice.
[US]J. Wambaugh Golden Orange (1991) 38: She wore those round, no bullshit, yuppie eyeglasses.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] Jack [...] a piece of no-bullshit advice. You don’t want to be involved.
[UK]G. Iles Turning Angel 196: Sonny fixes me with a no-bullshit stare.
[US]N. Walker Cherry 106: The guy ended up living. So Burnes had done well and Thorpe was a hero—a no-bullshit, shot hero.