Swear Words, Part 3

Bullshit.

A rather popular nonsensical expression people spat out for various reasons and mainly used as a verb.  Also, one of my favorites to how bullshit got its meaning. But, it is of uncertain origin.

Back in the 16th century, bull had another meaning to Victorian people: it meant to fool, mock or cheat. This kind of bull came from a Middle English derive, bul, meaning falsehood. John Milton used the word bul in his story 1644 narrative, Areopagitica, defining it as a ludicrous jest or a contradiction in terms:

 …the books not many which they so dealt with: till Martin V., by his bull, not only prohibited…

However, the Oxford English Dictionary declares the earliest use of the word bull in this context was from 1640 from a 17th century character in a play:

Dumbe Speaker! that’s a Bull

The second word in the compound, shit, has already been uncovered. Click here to learn the origin of shit.

While little is known where bull came form, we can say what the Irish say, “No Bull!” Why are the Irish connected to this? Who knows. Who really cares?

Want to know more about the bull, click here to read an article The New Yorker posted on this subject.

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