know shit from Shinola

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English[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia

Etymology[edit]

A colloquialism which dates back to the early 1940s in the United States, sometimes ended with "that's why your shoes don't shine". Shinola was a popular brand of shoe polish.

Verb[edit]

know shit from Shinola

  1. (US, vulgar) To have the most basic level of intelligence or common sense.
    • 30 October 1973, George Carlin, "Filthy Words", WBAI Radio, quoted in FCC Reports, Second Series, Volume 56, October 31, 1975 to January 16, 1976, page 101:
      "He don't know shit from Shinola. (laughter) you know that? Always wondered how the Shinola people felt about that (laughter) Hi, I'm the new man from Shinola. (laughter) Hi, how are ya? Nice to see ya? (laughter) How are ya? (laughter)"
    • 1974, S. George Pesare, "You Don't Know From Shoe Polish!", Black Belt Magazine, August 1974 issue, pg. 10:
      "I'd like to comment on your May editorial, "Who's In Charge Here?" You may be a fair journalist, but you don't know shit from Shinola when it comes to karate."
    • 1995, Michael Ward, Why your corporate culture change isn't working-- and what to do about it, pg. 102:
      "Laura looked at him coolly, levelly. 'Frank,' she said softly, 'the information simply isn't there. Therefore the control can't be there either. So don't try to con me. You don't know shit from Shinola!'"
    • 1996, Kenneth M. Ford and Zenon W. Pylyshyn, The robot's dilemma revisited: the frame problem in artificial intelligence, pg. 28:
      "See what I mean Shiela? You've got the logical form, the semantics, and all that, but you don't know shit from Shinola, and with your stupid heuristic learner you can't learn it unless somebody with authority tells you."

Usage notes[edit]

  • Almost always used in negative constructions to describe someone's ignorance or stupidity, such as: He doesn't know shit from Shinola.

Synonyms[edit]