Shit-A Serious Matter
What is Shit? How did this word come about? Are you amused by these questions? Then, probably you didn’t know the history of this word. The humour here is indeed a serious matter.
The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the commercial fertilizers had not yet come to be. Large shipments of manure were order of the day. In this period, ship was a major means of transport.
Manure was always dried before shipping, for, in dry state, it weighed less than in wet.
Once, a disaster was encountered, when the sea water touched the manure bundles in a ship. The process of fermentation began again, the byproduct being the highly combustible Methane Gas.
Manure Produces the Highly inflammable Methane
The manure bundles were stored below the decks. The unimaginable happened. Methane began to build underneath the docks. Very soon, a loud ‘Boom’ was heard.
Before one could come to terms with the inevitable, the whole ship was on fire and destroyed.
Methane gas led to fire
Many ships were destroyed in this manner, before it was actually understood, what was happening.
Shit and then Ship
After discovering the peril these manure ships faced, these bundles were always stamped with the instruction, ‘Stow High In Transit’ – S.H.I.T, meaning, ‘load the manure bundles high enough from lower decks while loading’, so that, sea waters do not reach the Methane generating Cargo.Thus evolved the term Shit, ‘Stow High In Transit’. This term has remained to this day.
On a humorous note, “Cargo loaders had to ‘Shit’ manure for safety reasons.”
The word ‘Shit’ soon came to be used as a derogatory word for ‘irritation”, for the number of ships that it had blow up.