crap (v.)

"to defecate," 1846, from a cluster of older nouns, now dialectal or obsolete, applied to things cast off or discarded (such as "weeds growing among corn" (early 15c.), "residue from renderings" (late 15c.), underworld slang for "money" (18c.), and in Shropshire, "dregs of beer or ale"), all probably from Middle English crappe "grain that was trodden underfoot in a barn, chaff" (mid-15c.), from French crape "siftings," from Old French crappe, from Medieval Latin crappa, crapinum "chaff." Related: Crapped; crapping.

For connection of the idea of defecation with that of shedding or casting off from the body, compare shit (v.). Despite the etymological legend, the word is not from the name of Thomas Crapper (1837-1910) who was, however, a busy plumber and may have had some minor role in the development of modern toilets. The name Crapper is a northern form of Cropper (attested from 1221), an occupational surname, obviously, but the exact reference is unclear. Crap (v.) as a variant of crop (v.) was noted early 19c, as a peculiarity of speech in Scotland and what was then the U.S. Southwest (Arkansas, etc.).

Draw out yere sword, thou vile South'ron!
   Red wat wi' blude o' my kin!
That sword it crapped the bonniest flower
   E'er lifted its head to the sun!
[Allan Cunningham (1784-1842), "The Young Maxwell"]
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crap (n.)

1898, "excrement;" see crap (v.). Sense of "rubbish, nonsense" also is attested by 1898.

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crappy (adj.)

"worthless, inferior, disgusting," 1846, from crap (n.) + -y (2). Related: Crappily; crappiness.

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crapper (n.)

"a toilet, an outhouse," 1932, agent noun from crap (v.).

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crape (n.)

"thin stuff made of silk finely crinkled," 1630s, Englished spelling of crepe (q.v.), which was itself borrowed into English late 18c., at first in a specialized, commercial sense. Black crape, from its somber and rough, unglossed appearance, was considered especially appropriate for mourning dress. Hence U.S. slang crape-hanger "pessimistic person, killjoy" (1909) from the notion of crape hung up as a sign of mourning.

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crapulous (adj.)

1530s, "drunken, characterized by drunkenness;" 1755, "sick from too much drinking," with -ous + Latin crapula, from or related to Greek kraipalē "hangover, drunken headache, nausea from debauching," which is of uncertain origin. The Romans used it for drunkenness itself. English has used it in both senses. Related: Crapulously; crapulousness.

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crapulent (adj.)

"drunken, intemperate in drinking," 1650s, from Latin crapulentus "very drunk," from crapula "excessive drinking" (see crapulous). Related: Crapulence.

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craps (n.)

game of chance played with dice, 1843, American English, unrelated to the term for excrement, instead it is from Louisiana French craps "the game of hazard," from an 18c. continental French corruption of English crabs, which was 18c. slang for "a throw of two or three" (the lowest throw), which perhaps is from crab (n.2), the sense in crab apple. The 1843 citation (in an anti-gambling publication, "An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling") calls it "a game lately introduced into New Orleans." To shoot craps is by 1885.

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crappie (n.)

type of freshwater fish, Mississippi sunfish, 1856, American English, of unknown origin; perhaps from Canadian French dialectal crappé.

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snake (n.)

Middle English snake, "a long, limbless reptile," from Old English snaca, from Proto-Germanic *snakon (source also of Old Norse snakr "snake," Swedish snok, German Schnake "ring snake"), from PIE root *sneg- "to crawl, creeping thing" (source also of Old Irish snaighim "to creep," Lithuanian snakė "snail," Old High German snahhan "to creep"). In Modern English, gradually replacing serpent in popular use.

Traditionally applied to the British serpent, as distinguished from the venomous adder. Applied from 17c. to various snake-like devices and appliances. Snakes! as an exclamation is from 1839.

The meaning "treacherous person" is attested by 1580s (it was used of Satan in early 15c., and serpent and adder are older in this sense) Compare Old Church Slavonic gadu "reptile," gadinu "foul, hateful." The snake's reputation was not helped by the Genesis story, but the notion is older. The phrase snake in the grass "underhand, plotting, deceitful person" translates Virgil's Latet anguis in herba [Ecl. III:93].

Snake eyes in crap-shooting, "a throw of two ones" (the lowest possible roll), is from 1919, hence the association with bad luck. This might have influenced snake-bitten, snake-bit "unlucky," attested in sports slang by 1957, which also might be from a literal sense (attested by 1807), perhaps suggesting one doomed by a venomous bite.

The board game of Snakes and Ladders is attested from 1907. Snake charmer is from 1813. Snake pit is from 1883, as a supposed primitive test of truth or courage; the figurative sense is from 1941. Snake dance is by 1772 in reference to a Hopi ceremony; by 1911 as a party dance.

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