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[shahy-ster] /ˈʃaɪ stər/
noun, Informal.
a lawyer who uses unprofessional or questionable methods.
a person who gets along by petty, sharp practices.
Origin of shyster
1835-45, Americanism; probably < German Scheisser, equivalent to scheiss(en) to shit + -er -er1; final -ser conformed to -ster
Related forms
shysterism, noun
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for shyster


(informal, mainly US) a person, esp a lawyer or politician, who uses discreditable or unethical methods
Word Origin
C19: probably based on Scheuster, name of a disreputable 19th-century New York lawyer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shyster

"unscrupulous lawyer," 1843, U.S. slang, probably altered from German Scheisser "incompetent worthless person," from Scheisse "shit" (n.), from Old High German skizzan "to defecate" (see shit (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shyster



  1. A dishonest and contemptible lawyer, politician, or businessperson: You lousy little shyster bastard (1844+)
  2. Any lawyer

[origin unknown and hotly disputed; perhaps fr the name of a Mr Sheuster, a New York City lawyer of the early 1800s; perhaps fr German Scheisse, ''shit,'' or Scheisser, ''shitter,'' by way of anglicized forms shice and shicer attested fr the mid-1800s, with the addition of the agentive suffix -ster; perhaps because prisoners were said and advised to fight shy of, ''avoid,'' lawyers who frequented jails, esp the Tombs in New York City; perhaps fr earlier sense of shy, ''disreputable, not quite honest,'' and -ster]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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