Shyster

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For other uses, see Shyster (disambiguation).

Shyster /ˈʃstər/ is a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, sometimes also politics or business.

Etymology[edit]

The etymology of the word is not generally agreed upon. The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as "of obscure origin", possibly deriving from a historical sense of "shy" meaning disreputable,[1] whereas the Merriam-Webster Dictionary deemed it probably based on the German Scheißer (literally "defecator"[2] but also used to refer to deceivers[dubious ]). Various false etymologies have suggested an anti-Semitic origin, possibly associated with the character of Shylock from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, but there is no clear evidence for this.[3] One source asserts that the term originated in Philadelphia in 1843 from a disreputable attorney named "Schuster."[4]

The Soviet nuclear missile R-5 Pobeda ("Victory") was given the NATO reporting name "Shyster."[5]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Professional wrestler Mike Rotunda, using the ring name Irwin R. Schyster, portrayed a dishonest tax collector and accountant.
  • Sylvester Shyster, a Walt Disney cartoon character introduced in 1930, is a disbarred attorney who schemes to deprive Minnie Mouse of her inheritance
  • The 1932/33 radio show Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel, starring Groucho and Chico Marx, depicts the misadventures of a small law firm.
  • Lionel Hutz is also an example of lawyer who was repeatedly hired by the Simpsons, despite Marge and Lisa being aware of his reputation. He operates out of a small law firm in a mall.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989, retrieved from dictionary.oed.com.
  2. ^ "Shyster". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ Quinion, Michael (19 May 2007). "Shyster". World Wide Words. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  4. ^ Karrass, Chester L. (1974). Give & Take. New York: Thomas Y Crowell. p. 194. ISBN 0-690-00566-0. 
  5. ^ Johnston's Archive - SOVIET/RUSSIAN MISSILE DESIGNATIONS