"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?


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
    May 4 at 17:30
  • shit or bust quiere decir: actuar o irse al carajo.
    – Lambie
    May 4 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
    May 4 at 17:31
  • There is no expression in English that is shit or bust for to be a success or a bust.
    – Lambie
    May 4 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
    May 4 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
    Jun 14 at 14:40
  • Origin late C19th-early20, according to books.google.com/books/about/…
    – Traveller
    Jun 15 at 8:28

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