"Sh*t or bust" is a vulgar English expression denoting a crunch point when a person has to (or chooses to) make a decision that will result either in success or in ruin.

What is the best Spanish translation?

  • That is not a set expression in English. And it most certainly does not mean be a success or a bust. The expression means: to act or take the consequences for not acting.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 21:07
  • 2
    @lambie It is a set phrase in (British) English e.g. independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/…
    – jacobo
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 9:30
  • @jacobo Thanks for putting this right. It's a new one on me.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 14:39
  • Relacionado: Traducción: “America or burst”
    – fedorqui
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 12:32

4 Answers 4


There are a couple of options you can use, but they do not include a swear word, they are quite harmless to use:

  • Jugársela a todo o nada.

This includes the use of jugarse as 'to risk'. Its explicit meaning is 'to take a big risk in order to succeed or completely fail'. You can also use this similar sentence:

  • Jugarse el todo por el todo.

I can't think now of a similar sentence which includes a swear word, but I'm sure there must be some of them.

  • Thanks for this, @Charlie. Those phrases sound good. An equivalent in English for the first might be "all or nothing". The sense of "all for everything" in the second is close to what I'm looking for. The vulgarity is not in itself necessary, but "colourfulness" would be welcome.
    – ool
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 17:30
  • shit or bust quiere decir: actuar o irse al carajo.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 21:03

To mirror the effect of the original "sh*t or bust", I think it is important to use a similarly disjunctive construction, with "o ... o" (either ... or).

I imagine somebody in that situation saying something like:

  • Con esta o me consagro o me entierro (literally: I become either a hero o a dead man).

(With this, either I rise to fame or I become an all-time loser.)

Another one, which has a stronger financial connotation, is:

  • Con esta o me salvo (de por vida) o me fundo / o me hundo (With this, either I succeed for ever or I go bankrupt / either I save my life or I sink).

The second alternative with "me hundo" is particularly colorful because it is connected with staying afloat (salvarse) or going down (hundirse).

In Argentina, we can also say this colloquially:

  • Con esta o me paro para toda la vida (I am set up for life) o me quemo (para siempre) (I spoil it all for ever).

It arises from the comments that the expression could be close to:

  • Es a matar o morir (a question of killing or dying).
  • Excellent - nice and short!
    – ool
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 17:31
  • There is no expression in English that is shit or bust for to be a success or a bust.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 21:01
  • 1
    @Lambie According to forum.wordreference.com/threads/…, it seems to be BrE. A BrE member says: "I hear the expression a lot in the UK. It means 'all or nothing' i.e. to risk everything to win. The easiest example I can think of is a football team being 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go, so they throw caution to the wind for the last 10 minutes and take risks to score a goal" (something like do, i.e. win, or die, i.e. lose).
    – Gustavson
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 22:15
  • Indeed, a new BrE expression I learned today. Thank you. I'd expect it in football but not from a Labour party member to the press (see above). It
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 14:40
  • Origin late C19th-early20, according to books.google.com/books/about/…
    – Traveller
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 8:28

Yo diría "que sea lo que Dios quiera" en el sentido de que me arriesgo a cualquier cosa sabiendo que cualquier cosa puede suceder tanto buena como mala.

Se utiliza cuando tomas una decisión a sabiendas de que es una decisión arriesgada y que el resultado en absoluto está asegurado.


I find most of the suggested expressions proposed already formally correct, though lacking the rough edge that profanity gives strengthening a phrase.

I may mention a very common one used widely in Northen Argentina, (it of course might have a broader usage, I am not claiming it to be exclusive).

When someone is uncertain about whether to act but urged to make up his mind and conclude the deliberations, the way that person switches to action is often reassured (self-encouraged) saying

"<let's do whatever>"

"y que se cague [que se pudra] (todo)..."

Normally facing an inconvenient path (or deciding on a some tough dilemma) where the most impulsive resolution to act, ends up defiantly that way: going forward and facing whatever consequence it may cause. I find that phrase as a sort of equivalent motto, pronounced in a shit or bust sense.

For example, say you realized that your bad tempered boss is the father of the girl you like, debating on the (in)convenience to invite her to a date, you decide to do it anyways, while saying to a friend:

La invito a salir lo mismo, "!y que se cague!"

[I invite her anyways, the hell with it!]

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