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“Heard You Were Talking Shit” is an expression used to confront someone who is suspected of slander. On Tumblr, the phrase is often paired with images of people or animals looking intently at the viewer, similar to other intimidatory reaction images like come at me bro and do you think this is a game?.
While the expression most likely has its roots in American-English colloquialism, it was first popularized through an inclusion in Gwen Stefani’s 2005 pop single “Hollaback Girl" (shown below).
“I heard that you were talking shit and you didn’t think that I would hear it.”
The earliest known use of the phrase in captioned animal photos can be traced back to an image of a goat posing with a cellphone up against its ear posted by Tumblr user wtfbrian on March 11th, 2013.
On July 18th, 2013, YouTuber Tenthosanddragons uploaded a clip titled “Heard you were talking shit,” featuring a scene from the Japanese manga/anime series Fairy Tail with the “Hollaback Girl” lyric dubbed over the original audio track (shown below).
On September 3rd, Tumblr user dbodybaker posted an animated GIF from the video game Mass Effect with the caption “Heard you were talkin shit” (shown below).
On October 16th, Redditor DaddyHumphrey submitted a screenshot of a Tumblr post featuring a cat crawling out of a hole in the wall with the caption “Heard you were talkin’ shit” to the /r/tumblr subreddit, where it gained more than 820 up votes in the first five months (shown below, left). On February 9th, 2014, Redditor VannaVictorian submitted a photograph of a cat sitting in a bathtub in a post titled “Heard you were talking shit” to the /r/Delightfullychubby subreddit (shown below, right).