bullshit vs bull-shit vs bull shit

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Captain Morgan

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Alright, today I was working some more on my manuscript. One of the main characters had a thought along the lines of 'this is bs'.

I used one word not thinking anything much about it until... I ran spell-check. Now granted, my spell check is set on FORMAL mode, so it flagged the word as wrong.

It then hit me that I am not sure how handle slang matters like this. Is it one word, two, or is it hyphenated? This is something I hear every day, and read in every novel, yet I don't remember paying much attention to it at all. I do remember seeing it as one word sprawled in a magazine add, but we all know ungrammatically sound advertisements are.

Unfortunately, I never did have teachers in english courses go over proper slang writing, so this escapes me. I'm looking for someone else's input here. Though for all I know, the way slang changes in english so fast, what is today's correct form of it will be wrong tomorrow anyhow. That is, assuming anyone even grasps the meaning still.
 

Rolling Thunder

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I think bullshit and bull-shit can both work, but bullshit is the more common spelling.
 

MidnightMuse

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I can't say I've ever seen bull-shit written that way, but I can't say it is or isn't okay.

I think common is bullshit.

<-- bull dog.
 

davids

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Bullshit-then there is Boooolshyte-of course there is-don't step in the Bull's shit-Don't step in the Bullshit-this is a load of old Bullshit-son't step in the Bull-shit you stepped in the Bullshit-don't be talkin no booolshyte to me brother! Hyphens are not Bullshit-hyphens are occasionally Bull-shit-on other occasions Bullshit!
 
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JB_Finesse

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Bull-shit reminds me of this old 1920's book I read, Babbitt. The way it hyphenated some words was pretty weird. "To-day", "Ice-cream" and so on. Bullshit is the accepted spelling. The only reason it would be "bull shit" would be if it were an actual bull's shit, or if there was a pause in between the two words.
 

cooltouch

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Word pairs seem to go through a natural sort of evolution in written language, I've noticed. The earliest instances will usually show the pair separated as two words: bull shit, to day, etc. As usage becomes more common, hyphenations appear: bull-shit, to-day. And finally as usage continues to become more common, the words are fused: bullshit, today. Just a pet theory of mine based on idle observation.

Best,

Michael
 

Medievalist

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It's usually one word.

And, yes, Michael is quite right. Moreover, there's an increased tendency in the last ten years or so to omit hyphens.
 

kristie911

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I've always seen it as one word and that's how I would write it. But then I'm the one that insists on making cellphone one word. :)
 

Captain Morgan

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Alright guys, glad I got it right the first time. I guess I at least learned something, which is progress. I'll add it to the supplement spell-check file. Ooops, is spell-check hyphenated, or one word or two? :p
 

Bartholomew

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Bullshit! (When stubbing one's toe.)

Buullll-shit. (When expressing disbelief.)

Bull shit! (When warning a friend to watch his step while crossing a pasture.)
 

Toxic_Waste

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Captain M, my dictionary says you can write it either way (hyphen or not) and it can be a verb or a noun. You also should keep in mind that in some cases or versions, the word is copyrighted, such as SpellChecker. As with so many other things in the world of writing, a lot depends on how you plan to use the word.

I keep getting the impression that you would be more comfortable if the rules and regs of writing could be neatly secured in a box and could be considered inflexible and more clearly and strictly defined. Relax, take a few deep breaths, and above all, enjoy the world of writing. It is a different place for everybody. We all have our own opinions, our own styles, or own methods to our madness.

Writing doesn't have to be so difficult or so exact and rigid. It's more fluid and unpredictable, much like the silver mercury that spills out of an old glass thermometer. It just goes where it goes, and the only predictability is that it never seems to go in the same direction twice.

Let your writing flow, Captain, ease up your choke hold on the ship's wheel and trust the currents of your creativity. (See, even the word chokehold can be either way, one word or two!) Happy sailing!
 
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Maryn

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I'm sitting next to a truly wonderful little volume, published in 2005 by Princeton University Press, entitled "On Bullshit." One word.

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it..."

Maryn, philosophy groupie
 
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