Have you ever heard someone angrily say “You can shove it where the sun don’t shine” or “I’ll shove it where the sun don’t shine”?
Believe it or not, people who say this are not talking about Blackburn.
“Where the sun don’t shine” means “up your butt”. And it’s usually only said by angry people. According to Google books, the earliest record of it being used to mean “up your butt” is from 1988.
Today, I want to talk about where this phrase comes from, why it’s popular, and when a good time to say it is going to be.
Even though it might not be “proper English” it is a glimpse into how language is used in the real world and not just an English classroom.
“Where the sun don’t shine” is an example of a euphemism.
Euphemisms are how we talk about sex (or sexual body parts) with directly talking about sex (or sexual body parts).
They can also be used to talk about gross topics or controversial topics. For example, you might say “number two” instead of poop. Or you might say “Wacky Backy” instead of Cannabis.
Other examples of euphemisms include “being visited by auntie flow” to talk about being on your period.
And “punishing the pope”, to talk about jacking off. Which itself is a euphemism for masturbation.
In the society in which we live in, sex is a somewhat taboo topic. There are going to be a lot of people who are going to feel uncomfortable talking about it, and therefore would appreciate it if you could keep that stuff to yourself.
The same applies when talking about poop or drugs. There may be some people who are unusually sensitive or squeamish when it comes to these kinds of topics.
Therefore, using language that disguises what you’re actually talking about can allow you to discuss these kinds of things freely and with less worry of dirty looks.
The issue with popular euphemisms is that most people know what they mean, so they don’t work to conceal what you’re talking about.
The origin of “where the sun don’t shine” has been impossible to find.
One source has told me that it came about in the 1970s, but I could not the first published example of it being used during this time.
According to Google books, the earliest record of it being used to mean “up your butt” is from 1988. There are examples from earlier, but they’re talking about towns or cities, not any part of the human body.
What’s interesting about using “don’t” in this sense is that your English teacher probably told you never to say “it don’t, he don’t, she don’t”. You should instead use “doesn’t”in these circumstances.
“Doesn’t” will always mean “does not”.
“Don’t” however, means “Do not”.
Because we would never say “It do not”, “Where the sun don’t” is grammatically incorrect because the sun is an “it”. If you want to follow the rules to the book, you need to say “where the sun doesn’t shine”.
“Do” can be the plural of “Does” but it can also be an imperative verb “Do not eat that”.
But it doesn’t matter
However, the English language doesn’t work like a book where things are set in stone, and if you get it wrong, you’re a terrible person.
It works more like an election, where words can change over time. Still, to get along, people need to follow what everyone else is following.
The real world is not an English classroom, we use words and phrases that an English teacher would scream at. But because it’s what has been decided is okay, it is what’s okay.
Using the English language in this way was likely started by the working class, and is probably wrong on purpose.
We’re talking about an unorthodox topic. Therefore it would make sense that the sentence follows a similar line.
Sun is one of the oldest words there are. It’s not something we had to invent or discover. Even before humans were around, even before the planet was about, the sun was in the sky.
In Proto-Indo-European, they would have called it “sawel”. In Proto-Germanic, it became “Sunno”, and in Old English, it became “Sunne”.
Shine comes from the Old English “Scinan” which comes from the Proto-Germanic “Skeinanan” which comes from the Proto-Indo-European “Skai”.
“Where the sun don’t shine” is probably not something you shouldn’t say to your wife, mother, or boss. But it can be impactful if you use it when talking to your friends, or if you’re writing for an informal blog.
If you’re talking about politics, and a law comes up that you dislike, you could say “He can shove that new law where the sun don’t shine”.
If you find that a friend of yours is spending too much time on their phone, you might be tempted to say “I wanna shove her phone where the sun don’t shine”.
Of course, “where the sun don’t shine” is not the only way we have of saying that you don’t care about or even dislike something.
“I don’t give a monkeys” means “I don’t give a damn”—it’s what you should say in polite company.
You could also say “To hell with…”. This is to say that you dislike this thing so much that you wish to send it to Hell where it can suffer for the rest of time.
Although I have found that “where the sun don’t shine” is a potent phrase that can strongly affect the impact of your sentence.
“Where the sun don’t shine” means up your butt. And it’s where we want to put things that we dislike or disapprove of.
It’s a great example of a euphemism, a word we use to cover up what we’re really talking about, enabling you to talk about taboo topics with polite people.
Although we should be saying “doesn’t”, the English language don’t care about what’s supposed to be. Because “don’t shine” is what has become popular, that is what has stayed. So when someone says “Shove it where the sun don’t shine”, they’re not telling you to go to Blackburn.