I’ve been wanting to write this posting for a long time. I didn’t want to be crude, so I’ve waited until I was more comfortable with it. But having heard a major public personality (remaining anonymous) use the word crap this morning, I felt entitled. When I was younger it was a word that was relegated to teen talk, fraternity talk, sports talk, but not to public discourse. Having remembered that the host of The Tonight Show, Jack Paar, was ousted for using the term “w.c.” on the air, it was clear that you couldn’t possibly use the word crap in a public way!
Crap is a word with many meanings:
- feces, or the act of producing it
- to make fun of someone, as in “He crapped all over my comment.”
- junk, as in “His car is a piece of crap.”
- exclamation, as in “What the crap?“
- to botch something badly, as in “She crapped up the task she had been given.”
- to wear out, as in “She crapped out after a half mile.”
- insignificant information, as in “His lecture was just a pile of crap.”
- a dice game involving gambling
- unlimited other meanings created every day on the street
But the most frequent use of the word is a derogatory statement meaning that someone is full of bologna, or without any credibility. I suspect that this is most closely connected to the first meaning listed above, feces.
On occasion you will hear someone say, “Holy Crap!“ I’m thoroughly convinced there is no theological meaning intended here, but the use of the word “holy” is just a way of exaggerating the importance of it.
People use the term publicly more and more. It had become a slang term, used only in the most crude or uninformed language situations. But it isn’t at all uncommon to hear a well-educated, highly-respected person use the word in a public way … even a speech. It’s not the best way to express one’s self. But it gets the meaning across quite well. The Urban Dictionary says it’s “the closest word in the dictionary to being a cuss word without actually crossing that line.” If you go to their page you will find an unadulterated listing of the meanings of the word, but be cautioned, it’s a little raw.
I think this is one of those interesting words that started out as a “disadvantaged child” and will end up being accepted into the household after all. It will never be seen as a degree-bearing or fiscally successful candidate for marriage to one’s daughter, but it might be allowed to enter conversation over the dinner table.
Photo Credit: Richmond Smile Center