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In Sweet Smell of Success (1957), columnist J.J. Hunsecker warns Senator Harvey Walker about agent:

J.J. Hunsecker: This man is not for you, Harvey...and you shouldn't be seen in public with him. Because that's another part of a press agent's life: They dig up scandal about prominent people... and shovel it thin among columnists who give them space.

What does "shovel it thin" mean?

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  • Shovel is a verb and the word it means scandal. The verb is used in a metaphoric fashion meaning spread around (like you would manure).
    – EllieK
    Oct 19, 2022 at 15:06
  • What about thin word? Oct 19, 2022 at 15:18
  • Thinly (in a thin layer). Oct 19, 2022 at 16:00
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    @gotube I'll let EllieK get it. :)
    – Lambie
    Oct 19, 2022 at 17:38
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    @Lambie - My best effort would be to copy and paste what you've said which doesn't seem quite right. You took the extra effort to illustrate the metaphor. I think this is your answer. :)
    – EllieK
    Oct 19, 2022 at 19:52

1 Answer 1

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Ellie K

Shovel is a verb and the word it means is scandal. The verb is used in a metaphoric fashion meaning spread around (like you would manure).

Me:

Yes, Ellie is right. What a native speaker would understand is this: They dig up shit that creates a scandal for prominent people. There is also the slang: to shovel shit. So the shit is being shoveled (passed) onto columnists in small doses.

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