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Possibly from a contraction of "grinning like a ’possum eating shit" , later detached from meaning and persisting due to its vividness (cf. "there are many ways to skin a cat").
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shit-eating grin (plural shit-eating grins)
- (idiomatic, vulgar) A broad smile indicating self-awareness that may suggest self-satisfaction, smugness, discomfort, or embarrassment.
- The term is ambiguous and may indicate either a genuine broad smile (e.g. smug happiness) or a fake broad smile (e.g. trying to hide or get away with something).
- For more quotations using this term, see Citations:shit-eating grin.
broad smile of smugness
broad smile of embarrassment
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.