bunch of crock / crock of shit

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David_Porta

Member
American English
I am long familiar with "What a crock of shit!" and "That's a crock!" [with the 'of shit' implied]; but I just for the first time in 59 years have encountered, "That's a bunch of crock."

//“That’s a bunch of crock,” daughter-in-law Barbara Belton told NBC News on Tuesday afternoon ...//

When did the crock transform from being the container for the shit, to being the shit itself? Is this a case of people not knowing what a crock is? Or am I ignorant of some ancient meaning of the word?

Perhaps it is regional.

Ngram has "crock of shit" leading by a vast margin, and dating from about 1943, with "that's a crock" distant second dating from about 1949, "what a crock" really taking off around 1974 and running barely below "that's a crock" ever since, and "bunch of crock" an infinitesimally distant last, dating from about 1976. But the solo ngram for "bunch of crock" shows its growth since inception to be exponential.

The grammatically correct phrase, given the definition of crock as an earthenware container, would be "bunch of crocks," no? But grammar seems irrelevant here. Because somehow "crock" has taken on the meaning of "crap." Perhaps "That's a bunch of crap" and "That's a crock of shit" was synthesized in some minds to become “That’s a bunch of crock,” but I am just guessing. The "cr" transposed?

Is it an anomaly? Does ignorance always trump as language changes? What is going on here?
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I am long familiar with "What a crock of shit!" and "That's a crock!" [with the 'of shit' implied]; but I just for the first time in 59 years have encountered, "That's a bunch of crock."

    //“That’s a bunch of crock,” daughter-in-law Barbara Belton told NBC News on Tuesday afternoon ...//

    When did the crock transform from being the container for the shit, to being the shit itself? Is this a case of people not knowing what a crock is? Or am I ignorant of some ancient meaning of the word?

    Perhaps it is regional.

    Ngram has "crock of shit" leading by a vast margin, and dating from about 1943, with "that's a crock" distant second dating from about 1949, "what a crock" really taking off around 1974 and running barely below "that's a crock" ever since, and "bunch of crock" an infinitesimally distant last, dating from about 1976. But the solo ngram for "bunch of crock" shows its growth since inception to be exponential.

    The grammatically correct phrase, given the definition of crock as an earthenware container, would be "bunch of crocks," no? But grammar seems irrelevant here. Because somehow "crock" has taken on the meaning of "crap." Perhaps "That's a bunch of crap" and "That's a crock of shit" was synthesized in some minds to become “That’s a bunch of crock,” but I am just guessing. The "cr" transposed?

    Is it an anomaly? Does ignorance always trump as language changes? What is going on here?
    I think ignorance (or feigned ignorance to produce a stronger euphemism by association in the listener who will expect sh*t after "What a bunch of", but gets the oirst half of another associated with it) is "playing a factor " here.
     

    unpoetaloco

    Member
    English, USA
    Actually, the leap from "crock of shit" to "a bunch of crock" is not that big. The term "crock" is already metonymized* for "shit," i.e. "that's a crock" (in Spanish, we say, " <---> [let's go drink a glass]). Once metonymized, it makes perfect sense to say "a bunch of crock." After all, language is organic and is constantly changing, against the "better judgment" of a bunch of prescriptivists.

    * Rhetoric in the Middle Ages


    <---> Spanish removed from English Only forum. Cagey, moderator.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:
    Good point, unpoetaloco.

    Actually, the leap from "crock of shit" to "a bunch of crock" is not that big. The term "crock" is already metonymized* for "shit," i.e. "that's a crock" (in Spanish, we say, "vamos a tomar una copa [let's go drink a glass]). Once metonymized, it makes perfect sense to say "a bunch of crock." After all, language is organic and is constantly changing, against the "better judgment" of a bunch of prescriptivists.

    * Rhetoric in the Middle Ages
     
    Nice test, Andy. But you do agree about what the speaker meant, regardless of his or her miswording?

    No it doesn't. It's an extraordinarily low frequency, and if you extend the date range to 2008 it's not going up.Try the Andygc test for meaningless ngrams bunch of crock,antidisestablishmentarianism. It never fails: "bunch of crock" is a trivial, almost non-existent aberration.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Can I put in a word for the Let's-fight-meaningless-mixed-metaphors Campaign?

    A bunch is, basically, a group of things connected together at one end (fingers, flowers, bananas, etc.) A crock is, basically, a pottery bowl (crock of gold, cream, etc.); its group noun is crockery.

    Put them together and, if you have an atom of visual imagination, the result is gibberish.

    The intended meaning, to me, is the same as a heap of crap, and I wonder if it isn't the "cr--" association which has led to this?

    Thanks, Andy, for the Andygc test for meaningless ngrams. Have you patented it?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Interesting that "bunch of crap" and "crock of shit" have almost superimposed Ngrams:D The appeal of both crock and bunch to raise the association with the "impolite" words is no doubt the attraction , and cause for increase in usage, however small, of "bunch of crock" as "innocuous".
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    If you try the ngram viewer with the options for American/British English, and focus on 1930 and later, you discover that:
    a) Britain began to adopt "bunch of crap" and "crock of shit" in about 1950, twenty years later than America.
    b) The hybrid version is unknown in the UK. (Long may it stay so.)
    (The most common Britishism by far is "load of crap".)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    So, in "polite" company, the originals would still be preferred over the "hybrid" in BE landia?
    No way! In polite company we'd say “That’s complete nonsense,” daughter-in-law Barbara Belton told BBC News on Tuesday afternoon ...
    What she'd really say would probably be "That's a load of cobblers" or "...load of bollocks".
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I think the woman was extremely upset (remember that there had just been a death—a murder—in her family) and she mixed two expressions, that's all. Don't try to analyze it.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Well, the Ngrams don't lie - the expression is out there and growing - hybridized just like "play a factor in" meaning either "be a factor in" or "play a role in"...
    and she may have been confused in that example but some are using it deliberately to avoid saying shit or crap:)
     
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