I am writing an essay and I want a more polite way of saying "the world is going to shit".

I don't want to swear and can't think of what else to say. Can anyone help me?

  • 1
    Hi, Julia. It would be nicer if you could show us in what context you would use the sentence. What is the subject of the essay and what do you want to express with the sentence?
    – user24743
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 19:34
  • People have been saying the world is going to shit (or some equivalent) more or less since language was invented. If it was true that everything has been continuously going downhill for thousands of years, the world would be unimaginably bad by now. Since all-in-all, things aren't that intolerable, it would imply that the expression is inaccurate. Perhaps there are always things that are bad, and what people view as "going to shit" is really just change (what specific things are bad at any given time), or they don't notice when things get better. Just food for thought for your essay.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 4:14

5 Answers 5


Oh so many, many ways. I'm sure you will get many suggestions.

  • The world is going to the dogs.
  • The world is going to hell in a handcart.
  • The world is going downhill.
  • The world is going to pieces.
  • The world is going to pot.

Just a few to get you started...

  • Also "... in a handbag".
    – user3169
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 22:17
  • 5
    or "... in a handbasket".
    – zondo
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 23:09
  • I like your last suggestion, but some learners might want some more background information on it. This page has some pretty interesting information about the idiom gone to pot.
    – J.R.
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 2:30

I like The world is going downhill in another answer. It sounds neutral (register-wise) and idiomatic. But because you mentioned "essay", you may want to consider these alternatives:

The world is plunging/sinking/spinning into turmoil/chaos/disarray/oblivion.

  • Sometimes plain, simple language is better than fancy language in an essay.
    – David K
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 4:18
  • ...and sometimes a little originality and color is a good idea, too. It depends on your audience, your message, and the way the author hopes to come across.
    – J.R.
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 15:46

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  • A nice answer, Mr. Yeats! "The time is out of joint; O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!" Commented May 2, 2016 at 19:02

It is a belief not a fact (depending on your perspective), you may want to simply express doubt. You can say things like:

  • I don't like where the world is headed.
  • I'm not optimistic about ...
  • There is no hope for the world.

If you want to make that strong statement, maybe something like:

  • The world is lost.
  • The world will never recover.
  • or to quote a song, and my boss, "It's the End of the World as We Know It".

These days ain't nobody can blame a man for takin' to drink.

  • Do you think that's appropriate for an essay? Your answer would be better if it explained what that means and how to use it.
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 19:22

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