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A friend recently asked what the origin of the slang expression, "I didn't get squat" was. I'm inclined to think "squat" as a substitute for "shit," but can't find any way to substantiate it. Any ideas?

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Picture of Kalleh
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Great question, Geoff.

I checked the OED, and you are right. Here's the entry:
[Prob. f. slang to squat to void excrement.]

Nothing at all; (following a negative construction) anything. Orig. as second element of phr. doodly-squat [prob. f. U.S. slang doodle excrement].
1934 Z. N. HURSTON Jonah's Gourd Vine xviii. 217 She ain't never had nothin'{em}not eben doodly-squat, and when she gits uh chance tuh git holt uh sumpin de ole buzzard is gone on uh rampage. 1946 MEZZROW & WOLFE Really Blues viii. 107 These cats weren't from doodlely-squat. Ibid. 373 Doodlely-squat, nothing, no more than the product of a child who squats to do his duty. 1967 WENTWORTH & FLEXNER Dict. Amer. Slang Suppl. 705/2 Squat,..= zot. Ibid. 712/2 Zot,.. a grade or a score of zero. 1975 G. V. HIGGINS City on Hill i. 18 A lot of people that didn't care squat about the war went with us on that point. 1977 Rolling Stone 30 June 82/1 Under no circumstances would I ask those..judges down in Oswego to give him back his shingle on the condition it doesn't mean doodly-squat. 1979 P. BENCHLEY Island ii. 26 It'll be another forecast-of-Armageddon cover that won't amount to squat.
It originated from a French slang word meaning to void excrement (shit). Is it U.S. slang only, or do you use squat this way in the U.K.?
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No, I don't think it's used over here, although it's probably widely known through US TV, movies, and books.

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