Shit happens

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For other uses, see Shit happens (disambiguation).

"Shit happens" is a common vulgar slang phrase, used as a simple existential observation that life is full of unpredictable events, either "Así es la vida" or "C'est la vie". The phrase is an acknowledgment that bad things happen to people for no particular reason.[1] Phrases with similar meaning include "stuff happens" and "it happens", and are considered minced oath forms. In the October 14, 1941 episode of the long-running radio show Vic and Sade, "Vic Declines a Cornet Lesson," Sade remarks wearily, "Stuff happens, don't it? Stuff happens." [2]

The origin or earliest use of the phrase is uncertain. In a review of The Yale Book of Quotations (2006) by Fred Shapiro, The New Yorker critic Louis Menand observed that it was "extremely interesting to know, for instance, that the phrase 'Shit happens' was introduced to print by one Connie Eble, in a publication identified as UNC–CH Slang (presumably the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), in 1983."[3]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the 1992 film Captain Ron, Kurt Russell's character, Ron Rico, uses the phrase during a monopoly game as a blunt way to teach minors the risks of gambling.
  • Along with several other humorous stunts of similar type, the 1994 film Forrest Gump, contains a fictional account of an event involving Forrest Gump which have allegedly led to the birth of the phrase. When he was running across the country, a bumper sticker designer asked him about whatever Gump wanted to say so he could put it on a bumper sticker and sell it; at the time, Forrest stepped on dog excrement, as the other guy said to him "Whoa! Man, you just ran through a big pile of dogshit!", then Gump said "It happens", the guy replied, "What, shit?", Gump replied "Sometimes"; and the slang was created.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shit happens". Psychology Today (New York). May 1995. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  2. ^ "Vic & Sade (pg 02) 1940-1941". Sound Recording. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ Menand, Louis (2007). "Notable Quotable (Book review of "Yale Book of Quotations", ed. Fred Shapiro)". The New Yorker (February 19, 2007). 
  4. ^ ""FORREST GUMP"". imsdb. Retrieved 16 July 2014.