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Shit happens

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Shit happens is a slang sentence that is used as a simple existential observation that life is full of unfortunate unpredictable events, similar to "c'est la vie". The sentence is an acknowledgment that bad things happen to people seemingly for no particular reason.[1][2]

It can also be said less vulgarly, including phrases such as "it happens" or "stuff happens".[3]


The fact that people have been remarking that shit happens has been attested from 1964, when Carl Werthman quoted an example in his UC Berkeley masters thesis; the relevant excerpt was published in The American City (edited by Anselm L. Strauss) in 1968.[4]

Examples of usage[edit]

In 2011, Australian politician Tony Abbott, who was at the time Opposition Leader and leader of the Liberal Party (later becoming Prime Minister), used the sentence in an interview.[5][6]

See also[edit]

  • Murphy's law – Adage typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong"
  • Butterfly effect – Idea that small causes can have large effects


  1. ^ "Shit happens". Psychology Today. New York. May 1995. Retrieved 25 November 2007.
  2. ^ "Vic & Sade (pg 02) 1940–1941". Sound Recording. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Jeb Bush Says 'Stuff Happens' In Response to Gun Violence". ABC News. 2 October 2015.
  4. ^ The datum: "That shit happens all the time." In "The Police as Perceived by Negro Boys", ed. Carl Werthman; in The American City: A Source Book of Urban Imagery, edited by Anselm L. Strauss (Chicago: Aldine, 1968), p. 285. Here in Google Books. A footnote says that Werthman's short contribution to the book is "Excerpted from 'Gang members and the police', unpublished M.A. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1964."
  5. ^ "'Shit happens': Abbott grilled over digger remark". ABC News. 8 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Seven slammed over Abbott 'shit happens' broadcast".

External links[edit]

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