Why the Crap?

-ala Wikipedia – My sentiments at bottom.

Crap is a slang word meaning either ‘of poor quality’ or ‘feces‘. The former meaning is sometimes considered mildly vulgar; the latter meaning is oftentimes considered mildly or moderately vulgar, but could be, on occasion, viewed as strongly vulgar by means of scatological and sensory-provoking use of the word.

In its former meaning it also connotes inaccurate, of little factual substance, lies, hype, or quackery.


The word “crap” is old in the English language, one of a group of nouns applied to discarded cast offs, like “residue from renderings” (1490s) or in Shropshire, “dregs of beer or ale”, meanings probably extended from Middle English crappe “chaff, or grain that has been trodden underfoot in a barn” (c. 1440), deriving ultimately from Late Latin crappa, “chaff“.

The word fell out of use in Britain by the 1600s, but remained prevalent in the North American colonies which would eventually become the United States. The meaning “to defecate” was recorded in the U.S. since 1846 (according to Oxford and Merriam-Webster), but the word did not hold this meaning at all in Victorian England.

The connection to Thomas Crapper is conjectured by Hart-Davis to be an unfortunate coincidence of his surname. The occupational name Crapper is a variant spelling of Cropper. In the US, the word crapper is a dysphemism for “toilet”. The term first appeared in print in the 1930s. It has been suggested that US soldiers stationed in England during World War I (some of whom had little experience with indoor plumbing) saw many toilets printed with “T. Crapper” in the glaze and brought the word home as a synonym for “toilet” — a sort of back-formation from “crap.” This suggestion, however, overlooks the fact that “crapper” was a well-established word long before that time.

Yet another purported explanation is that Thomas Crapper’s flush toilet advertising was so widespread, and the business name “T. Crapper & Sons, Chelsea,” was seen on so many toilets, that “crapper” became a synonym for “toilet” and people simply assumed that he was the inventor.

Many people use the word “dung” rather than crap these days. They use it to hide the slang word and subsitute it for another word. Dung is a more understanding subsitute word for crap because the definition of dung is manure or animal droppings.

Derivative words and expressions

Crap‘s popularity as an all-purpose word has given rise to a number of derived words, such as:

  • crapolasynonym for “crap”
  • crappy — of poor quality
  • craptastic — a portmanteau of “crappy” and “fantastic”

Despite the word usually taking the form of either a noun or verb, some people (usually speakers from Commonwealth countries) use crap interchangeably with its adjective form crappy. For example, “My computer has a really crap video card,” or “I’m crap at this.”

These derivative words are very frequently not considered to be vulgar (even mildly so), especially if they are used in a way that doesn’t have an obviously-implied association to feces.

Some expressions involving specifically “crap” are:

  • Cut the crap — to stop lying or beating around the bush; cut to the chase.
  • Crap out — meaning to break down or stop working; in the game of craps, it refers to missing the first throw of craps.

-ala Wikipedia

Usage of the word ‘Crap’ on What the Crap

I love this word because it can be used in many circumstances. On this site, I use it mostly in the ‘of poor quality’ sense. However, I think it is also useful to emphasize other words. For instance: Extreemly ridiculous, cool, amazing, (as in, “This crap – is The Crap!”) outrageous, worthless, pointless or henious.

Only occasionally will it be used to signify ‘feces’.

It it not my intention to be offencive. The real problem is there is a serious shortage of words to describe thing we simply can’t understand. Plus – it fits. Imagine if the site was called, Whoa Baby, or Holy Cow, or Goodness Gracious Me…

The theory behind What the Crap – It’s what you are thinking when you see or hear something that makes you stop in your tracks, often with your jaw dropped and nothing to say.

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