Definition of shyster in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈSHīstər/


A person, especially a lawyer, who uses unscrupulous, fraudulent, or deceptive methods in business.
Example sentences
  • So now, six years in, what should these shysters, lawyers, and purveyors of vacuous mediocrity do next?
  • I put myself out on the line for this guy, and he was nothing but a shyster with a slick lawyer.
  • He declared the amount to be ‘good value for money in a business largely conducted by shysters and sharks.’


Mid 19th century: origin uncertain; perhaps related to German Scheisser 'worthless person'.

  • An American story goes that there was once an unscrupulous lawyer called Scheuster who gave his name to the shyster, but no record of him has ever been found. It is more likely that German Scheisser ‘worthless person’ formed from Scheisse ‘excrement’, is the word's origin, since it first appeared in New York, home to many German-speaking immigrants, as a term for an unqualified lawyer who preyed on inmates of the notorious prison called the Tombs. Shyster was first recorded in 1843, and soon took on the sense of an unscrupulous lawyer rather than a fake one.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: shy·ster

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