80 Comments

  1. Bathers often pee in the ocean. The beach is conveniently divided into separate pee areas for men and women. The joke is that this is completely unnecessary.

  2. I don’t understand “pursue the ‘restroom signage’ theory.” What other theory is there?

  3. RE: Cat door. We actually HAVE a dogs’ “bathroom”, as they are not walked or allowed into the yard. So we do have a doggie door leading from the patio area into their potty pen. Very convenient, and both male and female dogs use the same pen. ‘-)

  4. Ditto Winter Wallaby. What other theory is there about what they mean.

    “spit in the ocean” is a euphemism? For pissing in the ocean? Why would we have a euphemism for that?

    I’ve never heard the phrase except as the stud poker variation which was my favorite when I was ten (thanks to my favorite uncle).

    I have heard, from Terry Pratchett and others, of the….. what is the term for these time of adages…… wry comment: Every bit helps, as the old woman said as she peed in the ocean. … which would work just as well for “spit” which I assumed was the meaning of the name of the stud poker.

    (What is the name for the type it adage that goes : observation as X said as he did a funny interpretation of the observation. Perhaps the most well known is: “To each their own, as the old woman said as she kissed the cow”?)

  5. Woozy and Winter: The other, and not-specifically-bathroom-adjacent understanding of the signs, is simply “Men swim over here, women swim over here.”

  6. We (Brits) are more likely to say cake-hole.

    https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/320050.html says cake-hole started somewhere in the mid-20thC in the UK and in the 1940s was used in military service slang by airmen.

    “The later equivalent term ‘shut your pie-hole’ began use in the USA in the 1980s. It isn’t clear if that derives from the ‘cake-hole’ version or was coined independently.”

  7. Yep, that’s what I just read, too; I was sure I’d only read it in BritBooks, tho. Oh well, fading memory – that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

  8. I’ve only heard “pie hole” in the U.S since the 80’s and I always assumed it was derived from a vulgar (bordering obscene) bit of misogyny.

    No, idea of the etymology of “cake hole” but I always thought it seemed weirdly physical as cakes…. crumble.

  9. Yes, that’s all it is, at base. But it’s disturbing because it leaves you wondering if the users of those expressions will soon be designating other bodily orifices as “X-hole” based on what may go into – or come out of – those areas.

  10. Americans may recall when there was mooted a foreign-policy category of “s***hole countries”. Both there and in more general usage I don’t think it means the anus (as on Mitch’s generalization), but more likely a hole in the ground, for latrine purposes.

  11. But it’s a weird distinction. Why cake? All my food goes in that hole. And you want to shut what is coming out and you are talking of cake…. which is cakey…. for me the envisioning is very strange and very unpleasant. (I’m talking just my impression… why I find the expression really…. off-putting.)

    My interpretation of “pie-hole” is probably inconsistant with everyone elses (and my pet hypothesis is is came for “Revenge of the Nerds”) although much more crude offensive and disturbing and just plain gross, is … at least consistent.

    Frankly I’d be really happy waking up to find both phrases magically expunged for history and everyone’s memory.

  12. “Frankly I’d be really happy waking up to find both phrases magically expunged for [from] history and everyone’s memory.”

    I heartily agree . . . as with you, I find it particularly offensive (which is the point, I s’pose).

  13. What is the name for the type it adage that goes…
    It’s reminiscent of Tom Swifties (example: “The thermostat is set too high,” said Tom heatedly.).

  14. I see Woozy’s examples as fitting more with the “… said the actress to the bishop” type of rejoinder.

    But I do like Swifties. My preference is to rate more highly those where the statement has been written to more or less fit the style suggested by the adverb (apart from the content punning on it). Thus, to pick up on Ed’s example, we might amend to

    “The $%^&$%^^ thermostat is set too ^^^^# high,” said Tom heatedly.

    or

    “I demand the management turn down that thermostat!” Tom exclaimed heatedly.

  15. My grandma would say things like “‘I see,’ said the blind man. ‘You lie like hell!’ said the dummy.” Or, “‘I see,’ said the blind carpenter, as he picked up his hammer and saw.”

  16. “Frankly I’d be really happy waking up to find both phrases magically expunged for history and everyone’s memory.”

    “I heartily agree . . . as with you, I find it particularly offensive (which is the point, I s’pose).”

    Wow. Those are strong reactions. I always thought of these as quite innocent phrases, more euphemistic than simply saying ‘Shut up!’ or ‘Shut your mouth!’ The ‘pie’ and ‘cake’ soften the blow a little, adding something nice to the aggressive thing you really want to say. At least for me. To each their own!

  17. Stan, the pleasant associations of the mentioned desserts may go a good ways to ameliorate those phrases. But anything is going to remain problematic as long as it uses “hole”.

  18. Well, there are some exceptions.

    ‘Ace in the hole’
    ‘Hole in one’
    ‘Watering hole’

    I’d prefer ‘pie-hole’ to ‘your mouth’ after ‘shut’. Although I do seem to be alone.

  19. In my house growing up, ‘shut up’ was considered to be as bad as the F word, so I’ve always flinched when ‘shut your . . . ‘ or even ‘shut the door’ is used. Just personal baggage.

  20. “‘I see,’ said the blind carpenter, as he picked up his hammer and saw.”

    Yes, that’s the exact paradigm example.
    Every word is the right one and in the right place.

  21. “I always thought of these as quite innocent phrases, more euphemistic than simply saying ‘Shut up!’ ”

    You’re kidding…. right?

    ” The ‘pie’ and ‘cake’ soften the blow a little, adding something nice”

    You must really be kidding, right?

    ….. telling someone to shut up is blunt, but degrading their mouth to body parts to shove food in and out of, to debase their thoughts to useless vomitting and gorging, and to liken the mouth to anus and **** is just dehumanizing.

    I see Woozy’s examples as fitting more with the “… said the actress to the bishop” type of rejoinder.

    Yes actress to the bishop.

    Tom Swifty (which should be called Tom Swiftlys but arent’) are concentrating on the adjectives and making a pun. Actress to the bishop concentrates on the phrase itself and makes it an absurd example.

  22. Not quite the same as Stephen Leacock’s “He flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.” I think that one is unique; there is no name for that construction.

  23. RE
    “I always thought of these as quite innocent phrases, more euphemistic than simply saying ‘Shut up!’ ”
    You’re kidding…. right?

    I doubt that Andrea is kidding, but in any case, I agree with her. And I’m not.

    Simply can’t imagine the strong reactions expressed here against the “pie hole”/”cake hole” variants. But, of course, YMMV.

    (For what it’s worth, while I’m an American who’s never been to England, I prefer the term “knickers” to “panties” as well.)

  24. Shrug: are you agreeing with Andrea “I find it particularly offensive (which is the point, I s’pose).”?

    or with Stan “more euphemistic than simply saying ‘Shut up!’ or ‘Shut your mouth!’ The ‘pie’ and ‘cake’ soften the blow a little, adding something nice to the aggressive thing you really want to say.” and “I’d prefer ‘pie-hole’ to ‘your mouth’ after ‘shut’”?

    But seriously? You consider “shut your pie-hole” to be a pleasant and innocent thing to say? And you can’t imagine a negative reaction?

    Wow, that’s …. just wow.

  25. “You must really be kidding, right?”

    No, not at all. Where you seem to be pondering the deeper implications of this phrase, all I hear is ‘cake’ and ‘pie’…you know, nice things…which detract from the rather aggressive expression behind it.

    I’m sure I’ve only ever heard these phrases in a playful way as well, such as a response to me teasing someone or something.

    “Nice haircut. Did you do it yourself?”

    “Oh, shut your pie-hole! I like it!”

    If in that exchange, they had said ‘Hey! Shut your mouth!’ I would think that I’ve truly upset that person and would feel the need to apologise.

    Anyway, it’s neither here nor there. We all have different interpretations and reactions to things. I think I’ve made my position clear, so I’ll just shut my…I’ll keep quiet about it from now on.

  26. I wrote and asked two friends – one born in Scotland/living in England and one born in England/living in Australia – just how AGGRESSIVE this phrase is, to them. Stay tuned for answers.

    Speaking of Australia (as I was): They have an interesting ‘take’ on words – infantilization [yes, I know that’s a made-up word] of the language. For example, ‘brekkie’ for breakfast; ‘biccie’ for biscuit (I had to admit to using both of those, which is why they come to mind). And so many more . . .

  27. infantilization [yes, I know that’s a made-up word]

    Have no fears, it has been a standard English word for quite some time, if a bit academic.

    https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/infantilization

    Definition of infantilization in English:

    infantilization
    (British infantilisation)
    Pronunciation /ˌinfəntl-iˈzāSHən/ /inˌfan-/
    NOUN
    See infantilize

    ‘A life devoted to instant gratification produces permanent infantilization: ‘at sixty-four… tastes are what they were at seventeen.’’

    https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/infantilize

    infantilize
    (British infantilise)
    Pronunciation /inˈfantilīz/ /ɪnˈfæntɪlaɪz/
    TRANSITIVE VERB
    [WITH OBJECT]
    Treat (someone) as a child or in a way which denies their maturity in age or experience.

    ‘seeing yourself as a victim infantilizes you’

  28. The two spellchecks I used are not up to date, then.

    Which brings up something I wondered . . . how long before COVID, covid, coronavirus become ‘authentic’ words in spellchecks . . . ?

  29. My British friend writes (she tends to write without punctuation):

    In Edinburgh shut your cakehole is what I would call passive aggressive you would hear it in a pub when someone would be spouting gibberish after a few drinks eg trump is a genius. then someone would say ach shut your cakehole. Quite often used to stop a drunk continuing an inflammatory conversation. but if you were in a pub frequented by eg rangers football supporters and you suggested that the goalkeeper might need glasses then the same phrase could cause a fight. I remember the phrase more from school days than as an adult, also phrases like ”awa an boil yer heid in a cabbage” means the same thing but a bit less aggressive. I heard it at school and tried to copy the phrase lol I had a snobby accent and was not allowed to speak slang so I said go and boil your head in a cabbage everyone just laughed at me. Haven’t hear pie hole used

  30. I tend to side a little more with Stan on this. (And before you ask, woozy, no I’m not kidding. And before you ask again, woozy, no I’m not kidding.)

    “Shut your pie-hole” is unquestionably at least potentialy quite rude, but it needs to be compared again “shut your mouth,” which is also potentially quite rude. So the only way either phrase is going to be OK is if it’s said in a jokey, playful, familial sort of way. Either phrase could be done that way, based on tone of voice, and expression, but the silliness of “pie-hole” makes it somewhat more likely to come off as playful.

    But this isn’t something you can reason out based on logic like “pie is good,” or “holes are bad.” It’s mostly just going to be based on the contexts in which you’ve heard the phrases.

  31. “Shut your [confection] hole” ads an extra layer of insult to just “shut your mouth” — a mouth is used for discourse, debate, and wit; you obviously don’t have one of those, you merely have a gaping void into which you shove food.

  32. From my friend in Australia:
    In the UK it’s definitely cake-hole.
    It’s crude/common, whatever the context.
    Said between friends it might roughly equate to ‘what’s your idea of bringing that up?’ but generally speaking – pretty aggressive. It’s certainly not assertive 😉
    Maybe a couple of notches down from Shut the f**k up.

  33. re: “Shrug: are you agreeing with Andrea “I find it particularly offensive (which is the point, I s’pose).”?
    or with Stan “more euphemistic than simply saying ‘Shut up!’ or ‘Shut your mouth!’ The ‘pie’ and ‘cake’ soften the blow a little, adding something nice to the aggressive thing you really want to say.” and “I’d prefer ‘pie-hole’ to ‘your mouth’ after ‘shut’”?”

    Correction noted; I recalled Andrea’s comment that her family found a blunt “Shut up” to be highly offensive, and I failed to remember that she went on to say that she found the extensions discussed here even more so. Apologies to Andrea for misreprsenting her.

    But yes, I’m definitely with Stan. I suppose in real life if a seven-foot tall drunken Hell’s Angel, swinging a bloody chain back and forth, told me to “shut my cake hole,” I would consider that quite aggressive. But that’s never happened to me in real life, and I can’t even recall if anyone at any time has told me to do so.

    But in reading/thinking about the phrase, I can’t help hearing it in terms of gentle friendly teasing, sort of like saying “Oh, you big silly — just close your pretty little mouth.”

    (Of course, if a seven foot etc. Hell’s Angel say “Oh, you big silly — just close your pretty little mouth.” I’d probably consider that agressive too. Context is, if not everything, at least a big chunk of everything.)

    I shall now log off to go get supper, otherwise known as “shutting my pizza hole.”

  34. Does “cake hole” have any relation to “cake eater”, a 1920’s expression for a man who is not a “real man”? i.e. eating cakes and sweets instead of real man food like a wild boar you killed with your bare hands. That is, is there an implied insult in “shut your cake-hole”?

  35. “But in reading/thinking about the phrase, I can’t help hearing it in terms of gentle friendly teasing, sort of like saying “Oh, you big silly — just close your pretty little mouth.””

    Wow! You and Stan went to very different playgrounds than I did!

    To my mind “Shut your pie hole” is something a gang member or a cop would say to display dominance and dismiss the other as a being whose mere existence is an offensive annoyance, incapable of any pertainent thought and and any attempt at thought is an streaming whiny noise, and the world would be better off if the talker would just die.

  36. It would be over sixty years ago and memories fade, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t encounter many gang members or cops at my school playground, just common or garden-variety young bullies. (And since they were generally inarticulate young bullies, I think I would might have been charmed if any of them had been linguistically inventive enough to say something like “shut your cake hole.”)

    But this is Getting Silly, and I think I’ll now shut my cake-holding typing fingers.

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