Paul Dickson wrote a great book called Family Words. He collects terms used only by a very small circle of people, like a family or group of friends. My favorite family word is, to put it mildly, total frogshit.
Frogshit is a synonym for bullshit used mainly by my friend John and a few other friends. Sometimes he actually sends me a picture of a frog pooping, but that’s a matter for the courts.
Frogshit is a natural coinage born in the rich fertilizer of slang. When you’re talking about bullshit, you can’t go wrong with any kind of shit. Of course, horseshit is also a tried and true term for nonsense or drivel. Before batshit took on an insane meaning, it was also a word for bullshit. This Oxford English Dictionary use shows that meaning was still around in the eighties:
1985 D. Koontz Door to December (1994) iii. xxii. 274 Why would men of science..associate with a purveyor of bat shit and bunkum?
The OED also includes several examples of dog shit as meaning “Rubbish, nonsense”:
1963 tr. N. Khrushchev in Encounter Apr. 103/1 We aren’t going to spend a kopeck on this dog shit.
1968 E. R. Johnson Silver St. vi. 53 Soon the other two will be telling you not to hand them that greaser dogshit.
1971 H. S. Thompson Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas ii. ii. 107 I’m tired of listening to this dogshit!
2000 A. Hagy Keeneland 242 You are full of total dog shit. I’m done putting up with you.
Then there’s cowshit, which the sadly unfinished Historical Dictionary of American Slang traces back to 1965 and a mention of a “cowshit lie.”
Any animal could conceivably get the job done. If you talk about a load of catshit, a bunch of goatshit, or a smorgasbord of snakeshit, your meaning will be quite clear, I reckon.
I asked John for the origin story of frogshit, and this was his response: “I started using that after one of two events, both random. 1) In a text to you because I wanted to break out of the monotony of bull and horseshit and I went for something non-mammal and small because it was ridiculous. 2) I was preaching to [John’s son, whose name I’m keeping out of this filth] in my televangelist voice and was walking him through a hypothetical phone call with Satan and instructed my infant son to say ‘That is frogshit, Mr. Lucifer, sir.’ I can’t remember which happened first.”
Strong Language readers, I encourage you to call frogshit on the hokum and hooey in your life. This word deserves a life beyond John’s mouth, my phone, and Kermit’s toilet.