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Shivs

A shank (from the Romani word chiv) is a slang term for any sharp or pointed implement used as a knife-like weapon, including knives themselves. However, the word in practical usage is frequently used when referring to an improvised bladed weapon. Shivs are commonly made by inmates in prisons across the world. A shiv can be anything from a glass shard with cloth or plastic fabric wrapped around one end to form a handle to a razorblade stuck in the end of a toothbrush. Some inmates have even sharpened the ends of pork chop bones to make them into weapons.

"Shiv" can also be used as a transitive verb, as in "to shiv [someone]", meaning "to cut or stab one with a shiv".

Synonyms include shank (from the metal shanks of prison-issued boots) and chib (from Scottish slang, as exemplified in the novel Trainspotting). Both terms, like "shiv", can be used either as a noun or a transitive verb, referring to a makeshift blade weapon or the act of attacking with such a weapon, respectively.

Popular culture

  • In Truman Capote's nonfiction novel In Cold Blood, Dick Hickock fashioned a shiv out of a toilet brush while imprisoned in the hopes of stabbing the undersheriff and escaping to Colorado. However, it was soon discovered under his mattress and confiscated.
  • The main character and the narrator of the Harry Grey's book The Hoods (who was the prototype of David "Noodles" Aaronson in the film Once Upon a Time in America), is called Noodles "The Shiv" from Delancey Street".
  • In the 2000 movie Chopper, based on the life of famed Australian criminal and best-selling author Mark Brandon Read, the legendary crime figure stabs a fellow inmate (a character based on Keith Faure), killing him. It is unclear whether or not this actually took place as portrayed on screen.
  • In the 2005/2006 television show Prison Break shivs make various appearances throughout.
  • In the HBO series Oz, shivs are used frequently to commit murders, attack inmates, or for other uses.
  • In an episode of Scrubs, the Janitor adopts a persona of a man who is terrified of returning to prison, and recalls abuse of a fellow prisoner, saying, "They shived him with a shank, then they shanked him with a shiv."
  • In the online game, Mafia Wars] by Zynga, the Shiv can be used as a weapon against Bosses in Jobs.
  • In the sitcom My Name is Earl, the main character Earl Hickey was injured by a shiv he himself gave to an inmate who he had wronged in the past.
  • In the movie Accepted, Schrader sarcastically claims that since he's going to jail anyways, he'd like to learn how to make a shank out of a toothbrush.
  • In an episode of Arrested Development, Gob Bluth is stabbed with a shiv by an inmate named White Power Bill, after Gob accidentally causes the other inmates to rename him Dirty Ears Bill.
  • In the episode "Pinewood Derby" of South Park, Stan Marsh kills an alien by stabbing his neck with a shank.
  • In the episode "Fight Face" of Gilmore Girls, Rory is about to start her first day of community service Emily reads her a list of what not to do and says if someone approaches you with a shiv to yell for a hat to come get you.
  • The term is used throughout Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel mini series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, but, given the context of it usage, is most likely a slang shortening of the word "shiver" rather than a weapon.
  • In the computer game Fallout 2 there is a weapon called a shiv, but is unusable as a weapon due to a bug.
  • In the song "Murmaider" by the Metal band Dethklok, shiv refers to instruments to bring when you must kill a mermaid.

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