An unethical, unscrupulous practitioner, especially of law.
Origin: Probably alteration of German Scheisser, son of a bitch, bastard, from scheissen, to defecate, from Middle High German schīzen, from Old High German skīzzan; see skei- in Indo-European roots.
Related Forms:Word History:
Calling someone a shyster
might be considered libellous; knowing its probable origin adds insult to injury. According to Gerald L. Cohen, a student of the word, shyster
is derived from the German term scheisser,
meaning literally “one who defecates,” from the verb scheissen,
“to defecate,” with the English suffix -ster,
“one who does,” substituted for the German suffix -er,
meaning the same thing. Sheisser,
which is chiefly a pejorative term, is the German equivalent of our English terms bastard
and son of a bitch. Sheisser
is generally thought to have been borrowed directly into English as the word shicer,
which, among other things, is an Australian English term for an unproductive mine or claim, a sense that is also recorded for the word shyster.