Shit happens

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For other uses, see Shit happens (disambiguation).

"Shit happens" is a common 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 are such as "stuff happens" or "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]

  • A series of VW Jetta commercials from 2006 used a minced version of the phrase ('Safe. Happens.') to promote the four-star crash rating of the vehicle. In the commercials, drivers and their passengers get into accidents while driving the VW Jetta; upon exiting the vehicle unharmed but shaken, the characters exclaim "Holy..." (as in the beginning of the expression "Holy shit") before being cut off by a titlecard that jokingly finishes their sentence with the word 'safe' instead of 'shit', and then adds 'happens' (a minced version of 'Shit happens', as stated above).
  • In the 1994 film Forrest Gump, it was suggested that Forrest Gump created the slang. 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.