This podcast is for all those who love football and also want to improve their English. This week, we look at the word ‘shithousery’, and its place in the language of football. There is a transcript of the show below, which can be used by learners of English to practice listening and reading skills. It can also be used by teachers of English to create activities, such as fill in the blanks, true/false, comprehension questions, sentence ordering activities, etc. You can also check out our massive glossary of footballing phrases here. We have hundreds of previous posts and podcasts too on our website. All  can access these resources for free.  Let us know if you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Learn English Through Football

shithouseryDB: Hello everyone. Welcome to’s football language podcast. My name’s Damon, and I’m based in Tokyo, while Damian, the other half of the team, is based half way around the world in London. I’m sure he’s busy watching all the action in the Premier League and also at AFCON, the African Cup of Nations. As for me, as I’m based in Asia, most football news is covering the Asian Cup, where Japan fell to a shock 2-0 defeat to Iraq a few days ago. I’m sure Japan, one of the favourites, will be fine, but it was a bit of a wake up call.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Cantonese)

DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was in Cantonese. Of course, Hong Kong are also one of the team’s competing in the Asian Cup. But today, we’re not focused on that competition, nor AFCON. Instead, we’ll take a look at a slang word, which is used to describe the behaviour or actions of players in football.


DB: Right, now today’s phrase is a coarse, bad, slang word. This means you should only use it in contexts where you won’t offend people. It isn’t polite language. The phrase is a noun, shithousery, which is made up of three parts – shit, house, and ery. I am sure most people, even learners of English, will know the word shit, but maybe some people are unfamiliar with the noun shithouse.

A shithouse has been used for hundreds of years to mean a toilet, usually outside the house. In the mid-20th century it became a slang word to mean a terrible, horrible person. Someone who was not very nice at all.


Shithousery was first used, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, in 2009. The word adds the ending ery to shithouse to mean the behaviour of a shithouse; the actions of a really bad person. So, how is it used in football? When a player or a team cheats or tries to break the rules to gain an advantage, their tactics can be called shithousery. It is not only cheating but cheating in a awful, dirty, or shameful way.

Here is a great definition by John Ashdown in the Guardian talking about the World Cup in 2018: “shithousery is an attempt to gain an advantage by unfair means and therefore it has existed around football for a long time.”

Examples of shithousery could be diving; faking injury; time wasting: for example, goal keepers wasting time for goal kicks, players taking a long time to walk off the field when substituted; deliberately falling or stamping on someone in a tackle; scraping the penalty spot with your boots when a penalty is going to be taken; ball boys not handing the ball to the away team player for a throw in, and so on.

The Dark Arts

If a player or a team uses shithousery tactics, their actions may also be called the dark arts. The dark arts are like secret skills learnt through long years of study, practice and experience. In a report with the headline ‘7 Footballers Who Use the Dark Arts‘, Sports Illustrated named Luis Suarez, Sergio Ramos, Diego Costa among others as players who used the ‘dark arts‘ or shithousery.

Stinger: Your are listening to (in Vietnamese)


DB: Thank you for that message in Vietnamese. Right, we looked at the slang word shithousery, meaning cheating, and also the dark arts. Both refer to means the tactics players learn to help them cheat in the game.

Before we finish though, I have to say that shithousery and the dark arts are things that many fans admire, especially if a player on your team employs, or uses, these tactics. There are many fans who think players should try everything to try to win, even cheat.

Right, that’s it for this podcast on the language of football. Follow us on all the usual social media sites. Leave comments and questions via our forum at And, if you have any ideas for football phrases, any questions, predictions, comments, just let us know.

Thanks for listening and enjoy all the football and which player in your team is an expert in shithousery? Ta-ra!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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Football GlossaryEpisode 1083