shoot for shit For the movie "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man" Harley tries to shoot a motorcycle and misses. Malboro says: If you were shooting for shit, you wouldn't even get a whiff. I've never seen "shoot for" used for description of an actual using firearms. Does it have idiomatic meaning here or literal? The "whiff" part indicates that the phrase is literal, but still I am not sure if "shoot something/somebody" and "shoot for something" can have the same meaning.
Aug 26, 2018 11:48 AM
Answers · 3
I suspect the "shoot for" isn't the relevant phrase here. It could be any verb, the relevant part is "for shit" - so you could say "he can't sing for shit". It is the same as a similar version " can't x for toffee" - where even with the incentive of toffee a person would be unable to do a thing. The suggestion is that even if a challenge (singing, shooting) was so easy that there was a prize like shit they would fail. That said "can't shoot for shit" is a particular common version of that phrase, just because of the alliteration.
August 26, 2018
shooting for shit = shooting to get shit or nothing or something of no value. So add that into what I said above. Even if Harley was shooting and there were no rewards involved. He would still miss.
August 26, 2018
Marlboro is implying that Harley is a bad shot. That he would miss a large target. The suggestion is that "shit" would give off a very unpleasant odour/odor over a wide distance. That Harley would not even hit the "invisible" odour/odor at its extremities. Also "get a whiff" is by itself another separate idiom within the sentence meaning the same thing. = "to not come close" or "to miss" or "to have no chance" Marlboro is exaggerating the idiom "get a whiff" to Harley by using "Smelly Shit" as the subject of the sentence. NB extra info: "get a whiff" idiom also means not to get even a small percentage of something. "The company went bust last week, but because I had only worked there three months. I never got a whiff of any redundancy pay"
August 26, 2018
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