Etymology
Advertisement
turd (n.)

Old English tord "piece of excrement," from Proto-Germanic *turdam (source also of Middle Dutch torde "piece of excrement," Old Norse tord-yfill, Dutch tort-wevel "dung beetle"), from PIE *drtom, past participle of root *der- "to split, flay, peel;" thus "that which is separated ("torn off") from the body" (compare shit (v.) from root meaning "to split;" Greek skatos from root meaning "to cut off; see scatology). As a type of something worthless and vile, it is attested from mid-13c. Meaning "despicable person" is recorded from mid-15c.

A tord ne yeue ic for eu alle ["The Owl and the Nightingale," c. 1250]
Alle thingis ... I deme as toordis, that I wynne Crist. [Wyclif, Philippians iii.8, 1382; KJV has "I count all things ... but dung, that I may win Christ"]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
*der- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to split, flay, peel," with derivatives referring to skin and leather.

It forms all or part of: derm; -derm; derma; dermal; dermato-; dermatology; echinoderm; epidermis; hypodermic; pachyderm; scleroderma; taxidermy; tart (adj.) "having a sharp taste;" tear (v.1) "pull apart;" tetter; turd.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit drnati "cleaves, bursts;" Greek derein "to flay;" Armenian terem "I flay;" Old Church Slavonic dera "to burst asunder;" Breton darn "piece;" Old English teran "to tear, lacerate."
Related entries & more 
shit (n.)
Origin and meaning of shit

Old English scitte "purging, diarrhea," from source of shit (v.). Sense of "excrement" dates from 1580s (Old English had scytel, Middle English shitel for "dung, excrement;" the usual 14c. noun seems to have been turd). Use for "obnoxious person" is at least since 1508; meaning "misfortune, trouble" is attested from 1937. Shit-faced "drunk" is 1960s student slang; shit list is from 1942.

Up shit creek "in trouble" is by 1868 in a South Carolina context (compare the metaphoric salt river, of which it perhaps a coarse variant). To not give a shit "not care" is from 1922. Pessimistic expression same shit different day attested by 1989. Shitload (also shit-load) for "a great many" is by 1970. Shitticism is Robert Frost's word for scatological writing. Piece of shit "contemptible person" is by 1916.

The expression [the shit hits the fan] is related to, and may well derive from, an old joke. A man in a crowded bar needed to defecate but couldn't find a bathroom, so he went upstairs and used a hole in the floor. Returning, he found everyone had gone except the bartender, who was cowering behind the bar. When the man asked what had happened, the bartender replied, 'Where were you when the shit hit the fan?' [Hugh Rawson, "Wicked Words," 1989]
Related entries & more 
coccagee (n.)

type of apple in high repute 19c. for cider, 1727, from Irish cac a gheidh, literally goose-turd; so called for its greenish color.

Related entries & more 
dung (n.)

late Old English dung "manure, decayed matter used to fertilize soil," from Proto-Germanic *dungō (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon dung "manure;" Old High German tunga "manuring," tung "underground room covered with manure;" German Dung; Old Norse dyngja "heap of manure, women's apartment;" Swedish dynga "dung, muck;" Danish dynge "heap, mass, pile"), perhaps from a PIE *dhengh- "covering" (source also of Lithuanian dengti "to cover," Old Irish dingim "I press").

The word recalls the ancient Germanic custom (reported by Tacitus) of covering underground shelters with manure to keep in warmth in winter. The meaning "animal excrement," whether used as fertilizer or not, is from late 13c.

It appears that the whole body of journeymen tailors is divided into two classes, denominated Flints and Dungs: the former work by the day and receive all equal wages; the latter work generally by the piece ["The Annual Register for the Year 1824," London, 1825].

Dung beetle, common name of the beetles which roll up balls of dung," is attested by 1630s. In colloquial American English, tumble-bug. An Old English word for it was tordwifel "turd weevil."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement