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February 13, 2010 9:18 PM   Subscribe

[batshitinsane Filter] (etymology) What is the origin of BatShitInsane?

I understand how gold diggers and silver miners two hundred years ago might have called guano miners in New Mexico "bat shit insane." I understand also how the cultural currency of "batty old aunt" comes into play. I don't think the current usage of batshitinsane derives from either of those catergories.

How did batshitinsane become a popular pejorative tag?
(I'm not taking offense to any rhetorical arguments, simple curiousity.)
posted by at the crossroads to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously

I was in a cave last October and got the stuff all over my pants but it really didn't make me all that crazy.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:24 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Batshit" / "batshit crazy" surely pre-date this site, but "batshitinsane" (especially unspaced like that) was probably popularized here on Metafilter. This wiki article describes its use on the site -- first used as a tag and then mentioned in-thread here (and called out for being inappropriate here) and now a tag on 545+ FPPs.
posted by churl at 9:29 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa. Apparently, Google can search by date-range, with it's earliest known sighting of Bat-Shit Insane being in 1996!

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38170

(How to search this way: http://jwebnet.net/advancedgooglesearch.html#advDate )
posted by effugas at 1:20 AM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Bats in the belfry" is from 1901, shortened to "batty" in 1903. Adding "shit" as an intensifier (e.g. "chicken" becomes "chickenshit") maybe 1950s?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:39 AM on February 14, 2010


I seem to recall reading either "batshit insane" or "batshit crazy" in some Hunter S. Thompson book years ago.
posted by cropshy at 6:47 AM on February 14, 2010


This term definitely pre-dates the Internet. I can clearly remember using it and wondering about the origin of the term back in the mid-to-late 1980's, so it had to have been in fairly popular use even before then.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 7:12 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe 'He's gone apeshit' came from apes flinging their shit. Then due to the law of zoological inflation they had to use a crazier animal.
posted by Not Supplied at 8:19 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe 'He's gone apeshit' came from apes flinging their shit.

I always assumed it was because ape shit = bananas.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:24 AM on February 14, 2010


I can't believe this was asked twice on the green. I love AskMeFi!
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:24 AM on February 14, 2010


Just to give some dates, doing a Google books search on this leads to an entry in Cassell's dictionary of slang citing batshit being used as a noun for lies or nonsense in the 40s, going on to refer as an adjective for insane around the 60s. Of course, it's no OED so there aren't relevant citations and thus this should be taken more as dates of popularization than origin.
posted by Schismatic at 9:14 AM on February 14, 2010


I've always assumed the erratice-looking way bats fly has something to do with the "batty" terms.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:26 AM on February 14, 2010


Take this as just another data point, but it probably pre-dates Dr. Strangelove, as it seems too coincidental for the Keenan Wynn/Colonel Bat Guano character to be completely random (Lionel Mandrake: "Now you listen to me, Colonel Bat Guano, if that is your real name!"), and it also seems a stretch to see that character's name as the source for later "bat shit insane" references.
posted by mosk at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The OED now has a draft entry, dated September 2009, for batshit (n. and adj.). The first citation, in the sense of "worthless or contemptible," is from 1950. In the sense of crazy, the first citation is from 1970, but that is for batshit alone. As an intensifier (as in "batshit crazy"), the first citation is from 1993, in the magazine Toronto Life, referring to a mug "emblazoned with the words: full-blown bat shit crazy." The fact that it was on a mug, though, suggests that this was not a new coinage.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:51 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe this was asked twice on the green. I love AskMeFi!

Me too, but make that three times!
posted by applemeat at 11:05 AM on February 24, 2010


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