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][2]

The fact that people have been remarking that shit happens has been attested from 1964, when Carl Werthman quoted an example in his UCB M.A. thesis; the relevant excerpt was published in The American City (edited by Anselm L. Strauss) in 1968.[3]

In a review of The Yale Book of Quotations (2006) by Fred Shapiro, The New Yorker critic Louis Menand stated 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."[4]

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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 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.[5]

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. ^ 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 A footnote says that Werthman's short contribution to the book is "Excerpted from 'Gang members and the police', unpublished M.A. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1964."
  4. ^ Menand, Louis (2007). "Notable Quotables (Book review of "Yale Book of Quotations", ed. Fred Shapiro)". The New Yorker (February 19, 2007). 
  5. ^ ""Forrest Gump"". imsdb. Retrieved 16 July 2014.