26

How do I say "shitload" or "shit-ton" without cursing?

Ideally, I'm looking for a term for casual conversation but without any cursing, the word you can use with kids and teens, or just adults you want to be friendly with without being vulgar.

I found words like "enormous amount" but it feels a little too formal and dull (and doesn't work if the word needs "number").

How appropriate is "buttload"? Would it be an acceptable synonym?

18 Answers 18

43

Yes, I think buttload is an acceptable, informal substitute, at least in AmE. However, some might still find the usage of butt somewhat offensive since some people consider butt to be a mild curse word. These people might include parents with very young children. Even so, I think most kids, teens, and adults wouldn't mind. In any case, a few more casual, inoffensive examples include

  1. ton - a great quantity : lot <ate tons of cookies> <has tons of money> <a ton of work to do>
  2. boatload - an indefinitely large number <a boatload of money>
  3. load
    1. often loads Informal A great number or amount: There were loads of people at the parade.
  4. lot
    1. a lot or lots Informal
      a. A large extent, amount, or number: is in a lot of trouble; has lots of friends.
  • 31
    +1, esp. for boatload. The word ton is a good suggestion as well. – J.R. Jan 6 '17 at 1:26
  • 12
    I also favor boatload. – ColleenV Jan 6 '17 at 1:53
  • 3
    @TeleportingGoat I can't say that I've heard it much in the US. Perhaps it is commonly used in other English-speaking countries, but I wouldn't know. – Em. Jan 6 '17 at 8:25
  • 4
    The pattern generalizes to vehicle-load of any kind. Truckload and busload also get used. – Iwillnotexist Idonotexist Jan 6 '17 at 20:31
  • 3
    I think the objection to buttload is not at all around the idea that butt might be a curse word, but rather around the poor taste of the evoked imagery about where you keep your items when you have a buttload of them. +1 to boatload: boats can be pretty spacious and totally appropriate for carrying cargo. – Celada Jan 7 '17 at 17:40
21

I like Max's answer, but having lived in NZ for a while (as a non-native English speaker), the first thing that came to mind was heaps.

Noun (informal) - a great deal; an enormous amount
I've got heaps to tell you., ⇒ You have heaps of time.

Adverb (informal) - used as intensifier; very much; a great deal
He said he was feeling heaps better., ⇒ There's heaps more cake if you want it.

  • 3
    I like heap, as it is informal but not vulgar. Additionally, "steaming heap" instantly makes it derogatory. – Kengineer Jan 6 '17 at 19:53
  • 1
    Indeed, "heaps" is popular in New Zealand and Australia, although not so common in British or American dialects. The generic intensifier (eg "it's heaps good!") is used in Australia but uncommon in New Zealand. – RJHunter Jan 8 '17 at 1:41
18

The polite version of shitload is 'shedload' or 'shedloads'. Whether 'buttload' is acceptable or not probably depends where you are - it wouldn't be acceptable in front of children in the UK, or in BrE. I can't say I find it that pleasant either, and I'm not a child...

  • 9
    Just FYI to readers: This is not common at all in the US – user10165 Jan 6 '17 at 19:21
  • 1
    Good point, I was referring to "shedload(s)" – user10165 Jan 6 '17 at 19:29
  • 3
    Sounds like a minced oath of shitload rather than a true alternative. After all, aren't most sheds rather small? – Sled Jan 6 '17 at 21:50
  • 1
    @ArtB not necessarily, sheds can be big enough to serve as aircraft hangars or engine houses, but even an ordinary shed is likely bigger than your average pile of s...t, so why use s...t at all, there's no reason to assume your average pile would be large anyway, its just because its a mild curse word that it's used – Bamboo Jan 6 '17 at 22:10
  • 2
    @Tetsujin I doubt that’s the case. The OED attests shitload from 1954, and shedload only from 1992. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 7 '17 at 18:46
9

Humans have been producing social meaning from language nearly as long as we've been producing excremental material from nutrition.

We might not need many mental steps to move from buttload to shitload and, from that juncture, produce a picture, feeling or perception that some would find vulgar, inappropriate for some situations, or with which we might otherwise sit unpleasantly.

Butt, in and of itself, for example in (someone/something is) a pain in the butt or give (someone) a kick in the butt seems relatively less likely to offend on the sensabilities of most native English speakers than might a buttload, probably because reactive to butt, we'd expect even the more imaginative among us to conjure up an image of the prototypical fleshy globes so visually similar to peaches (a perfectly wholesome fruit), and often associated with expression of cuteness, humor, and a supple vitality. If any other sense would be generally activated consequent to such a crack, anecdotal evidence (introspective case-study method) suggests it is likely to be through the aural perceptive modality, such as the good-natured thwack emanating from a locker room in which happy and well-paid athletes demonstrate charming and harmless fraternal bonding via various playful and congratulatory smacking and patting maneuvers, or the popular songs of Jennifer Lopez (a 1997 Golden Globe nominee).

With buttload, on the other hand, fundamental psycholinguistic principles plainly suggest cognitive focus would often receive a dump of emotionally charged information squatly bound to the load component of the term, suggesting--even forcing--reactivity to foulness or an intolerable reek, funk, or dirtiness that may be more likely to cause a negative reaction in some than the use of the term butt in itself.

The term load, as betrayed by its common transition from noun to verb, represents potential action, a promise of release which most may yearn for, at least symbolically as a projected residue of past experiences with struggles against letting go, but which few truly wish to experience intimately as a product of a constructed other.

There are a shitload of terms and phrases to convey the idea of a large amount. Many people find vulgar terms, profanity, sex-related terms, or potty talk useful because they often carry a striking intensity, or deliver a powerful emphasizing effect, which may be why you chose shitload as a starting point for your question rather than merely asking for strong or emphatic terms that mean a large quantity.

You might use mountains of (substance), or millions of (objects) effectively, depending on tone of voice, other contextual factors, and exactly what you might be referring to.

If you supplied a particular example, or specified the question further, we may be better able to supply what you're looking for.

Meanwhile, searches in dictionaries and thesauruses for synonyms for simple terms like many, myriad, large, massive, huge, ton, etc., should provide a range of options. If none seem to do the trick, you might try editing your question and trying to explain what you want to express that such alternatives don't seem to accomplish.

  • 2
    "Butt" may be less offensive than shit but it is still pretty offensive, or at least considered impolite by plenty of English speakers. If you're trying to avoid offence by avoiding shitload, then I would suggest avoiding buttload as well. – Simba Jan 6 '17 at 16:56
  • 4
    This answers seems far too verbose. – user10165 Jan 6 '17 at 19:22
  • 2
    It is indeed a butt-full. – Jim Reynolds Jan 7 '17 at 2:22
  • 1
    I like how you sprinkling in the harmless words "dump" and "squat" helps evoke the intended mental image – Hagen von Eitzen Jan 7 '17 at 15:58
  • 1
    I love how the answer managed to sound like a headmaster's lecture, yet still made me laugh like Beavis & Butthead at "such a crack". I do hope it was intentional. – Tetsujin Jan 7 '17 at 18:06
8

Not sure why it was removed in later revisions, but an older version of Wikipedia's list of Indefinite and fictitious numbers had some real gems:

  • buckets
  • couple-few
  • "forty-leven"
  • oodles
  • scads
  • umpteen
  • lots of made-up words ending in "-illion", like gazillion and bazillion

Probably the most direct replacement for "shitload/shitton" would be "metric load/metric ton".

  • Umpteen is a good one. I imagine that it is chiefly British though. – BladorthinTheGrey Jan 6 '17 at 17:38
  • 2
    "bags" in Australia. – labyrinth Jan 6 '17 at 20:20
  • 2
    @Bladorthin - I hear umpteen relatively often here in the US. – J.R. Jan 7 '17 at 10:58
6

Crap is usually considered a milder equivalent to shit. So I would go with crap load or crap ton.

  • 3
    @Mari-LouA "crap ton" is used as well (at least in AmE) - "OMG that is a crap ton of work. I think I'll call in sick today." While I think this answer could use a little more explanation and maybe an example sentence, it's not wrong. – ColleenV Jan 6 '17 at 17:32
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA: I hear "crap ton" all the time. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 6 '17 at 17:32
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA And now that I think about it "ton of crap" and "crap ton" mean different things. A ton of crap is a comment on the quality as well as the amount (you wouldn't use it for a lot of a good thing). "I had to deal with a ton of crap today because you called in sick." versus "I ate a crap ton of crab at the all-you-can-eat buffet last night because it was so good." – ColleenV Jan 6 '17 at 17:37
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA I'm going to agree with the others. It's very slangy but it's fine to say "crap-ton", as well as other creative variations like "a metric fuck-load". People come up with new expressions like this all the time. :) – Andrew Jan 6 '17 at 17:39
  • 1
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit OK, but crap, ton of crap, and crap ton are still "vulgar" and offensive, they were in my day, you wouldn't say it to the Queen's face, would you? – Mari-Lou A Jan 6 '17 at 17:42
5

The best direct non-vulgar synonym (as per question title) for "a shitload" would be "an obscene amount", meaning:

so large an amount or size as to be very shocking or unfair.

Asker stated (emphasis mine):

I found words like "enormous amount" but it feels a little too formal and dull (and doesn't work if the word needs "number").

As such, this answer doesn't really fulfill all of asker's requirements, but in my opinion "an obscene amount" does carry the intended meaning, because "obscene" is linked to derogatory terms.

  • This is actually a great answer; appears under-appreciated. It actually carries the exact intended meaning without messing around with euphemisms or ultra-formal words like "plethora." The answer could be improved with a few examples: "He makes an obscene amount of money"; "After my vacation I had an obscene amount of emails to handle." – Wildcard Jan 9 '17 at 10:16
3

You might also consider using "metric ton" if you want to be a tiny bit more formal. The derivation is based on the metric system, and the idea that, purely in terms of the metric ton vs the US (short) ton, then a metric ton is heavier (2,204.6 pounds) than a short ton (2000lb) which gives us the use of "metric"as an intensifier.

  • The problem with "ton" (with or without the word "metric" is depending on the context someone may take it too literally. – Peter Green Jan 6 '17 at 13:25
  • @PeterGreen I doubt there would be much confusion in most of the contexts it would be used. (That kid has a metric ton of angst!) I think this is a nice, if US-centric, addition to the choices and it has an explanation of why it is used, which I appreciate. – ColleenV Jan 6 '17 at 16:25
  • Amusingly, I'm British. Not sure why I use it or where I picked it up from. – Wenlocke Jan 6 '17 at 16:53
  • @Wenlocke: I picked up "metric <rude word>ton" from programming chatrooms on IRC, I think. Is it possible you also got it from Americans on the internet? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 6 '17 at 17:33
  • We use it in Canada too despite using metric tonnes, because it's funny, and nearly always unambiguously so: Saying a metric tonne/ton is nearly always redundant in context, and when talking about a “metric ton” of something that really shouldn't be measured in tons, it's obviously an intensifier. E.g.: “We have a metric tonne of complaints about the new design.” It doesn't have quite the same punch as shit-tonne, but it slides in smoothly as a replacement that does the same job. (And of course, you can also have a metric shit-tonne, for extra intesification.) – SevenSidedDie Jan 6 '17 at 18:40
3

As some of the earlier answers/comments suggested, "shipload" works wonders at getting as close to the same shock value as cursing.

Since having kids I started adopting something similar to replace many of my curse words with logical alternatives. If you really want to emphasize it and get some heads turning/thinking/chuckling, prepend it with "frigate" (a type of ship). My favorite phrase in this context: "That's a frigate shipload of context you've got there!"

3

In Northern California, one might substitute the word hella for this purpose.

Definition:

Hella: a large amount or number of.

Example:

"We found hella Pokemon in the Mission"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hella

This word has been proposed to be the numeric prefix for figures followed by 27 zeros (the likes of "kilo" and "giga"). Should this be accepted by the international scientific community, I think it might attain more common use.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news

  • This answer is hella cool. – Robert Columbia Jan 8 '17 at 18:03
  • I've only ever heard this used as an adverb, as in @RobertColumbia's "hella cool." It sounds very very odd when used as an adjective and should be regarded as not merely informal usage but straight-up slang, not at all guaranteed to be understood. – Wildcard Jan 9 '17 at 10:14
2

A word I have used is mega-ton from nuclear explosions but it looks like I made it up as slang. Maybe you could use mega-pile.

I have heard words like BFP for big frigging pile but that may be vulgar as well.

2

A USAian who recalls old tv series, or who wants to evoke such a memory, could use "mass quantities". That would probably trigger for anyone over 50, and possibly for anyone over 40 (re-runs).

For my part, I use the German word "Haufe" (heap). Even though non-speakers of German probably won't know the word, they'll nevertheless get the idea from the context.

2

How about ginormous (amount) or humongous (amount)?

Ginormous is less formal than enormous and has a more playful tone. It also implies a really large amount (ie. combination of gigantic and enormous).

How appropriate is "buttload"?

Personally I don't like "cute" substitutions for swear words. If you are going to swear go ahead and swear. Don't substitute some other word that the listener then has to substitute back in their minds.

2

Just substitute, “shit” with “stuff” and rejigger the concept a bit and you can easily use it with pretty much any audience.

Piles of Stuff

  • “Did you see that new discount store that opened? They have piles of stuff!”
  • “The new boss gave me piles of stuff to do; I’m up to my neck.”
  • “Just when I think I’m done, new piles of stuff show up seemingly out of nowhere.”
2

You can say "___ up the wazoo". Apparently "wazoo" here is a euphemism for the butt. I don't think this expression would be likely to be perceived as offensive, although apparently at least some people think of it as "vulgar". Mark Liberman gives more explanation in a Language Log post: The Road to Wazoo

Some definitions:

  • out/up the wazoo:
    US informal : in large amounts (Merriam-Webster)

  • up the wazoo, to an extreme degree or in great abundance: She's got problems up the wazoo. (Dictionary.com Unabridged, Random House)

  • up (or out) the wazoo
    US informal
    Very much; in great quantity; to a great degree.
    ‘he's insured out the wazoo’
    ‘Jack and I have got work up the wazoo already’
    (Oxford Dictionaries)

2

You could use the adjective galore.

adjective

: abundant, plentiful —used postpositively

Source: M-W

This is an Irish (Gaelige)-derived term that is used as a postpositive adjective. It isn't terribly formal, but it is not vulgar and is great if you want to impart a little Celtic or quasi-Celtic flavor to your speech.

food and drink galore.

1660-70; < Irish go leor enough, plenty ( Scots Gaelic gu leòr, leòir), equivalent to go, particle forming predicative adjectives and adverbs + leór enough ( Old Irish lour)

Source: Dictionary.com

1

To me, the most obvious, and completely inoffensive, option is "bunch".

As in, "I have a bunch of errands to run today" or "I bought a bunch of food at the store".

From Merriam-Webster:

a : a number of things of the same kind a bunch of grapes
b : group a bunch of friends
c : a considerable amount : lot a bunch of money

Any option that ends in 'load' is probably going to be somewhat offensive. A 'buttload' conjures up an image of a butt literally filled with the thing. A "buttload of grapes" is a literally the number of grapes needed to fill a butt. That's not super pleasant.

1

Must be a thousand ways (huge number?) to answer this. The most obvious is "boatload", retaining the original structure and connotation (IMO) without the vulgarity. I'm unsure why "enormous amount" seems too formal to you but I understand too well the "dumbing down" of our language.

Please don't use "buttload", "crapload", "BFP", etc. OK, so I'm an old fogey and set in my ways. It don't make me wrong.

protected by Community Jan 8 '17 at 22:54

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.