A shyster/ˈʃaɪstər/ is a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, politics or business.
In Britain, the idea of a 'shyster' is a person who earns a living in a fairground or in the 'coconut shy', generally believed to use unscrupulous and dishonest ways of earning money and avoiding giving out prizes. The word is used for anyone with the same traits.
The etymology of the word is not generally agreed upon. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says it is based on the German Scheißer (literally "defecator" but also used to refer to deceivers), but the Oxford English Dictionary describes it as "of obscure origin", possibly deriving from a historical sense of "shy" meaning disreputable. Various false etymologies have suggested an anti-Semitic origin, but there is no proof for that. One source claims that the term originated in Philadelphia in 1843 from a disreputable attorney named "Schuster."
"Evidence" (1946 short story) by Isaac Asimov, the expression "shyster trick" is used, which tells about a political campaign described as "one in which the artificial atmosphere which has been created does all the work"
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998 film adaptation) has a scene in which one of the main characters, Raoul Duke calls his friend, who is his attorney, a "scurvy shyster bastard".
The Professionals 1978 season 2 episode 2 "The Rack", Gordon Jackson refers George Cowley to "a shyster" lawyer
S.O.B. (1981), Polly Reed calls Dr. Irving Finegarten a shyster, to which Irving replies, "I could sue you for calling me that. A shyster is a disreputable lawyer. I'm a quack."
Carlito's Way (1993 crime film), Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is told by a police inspector inside District Attorney Norwalk's (James Rebhorn) office that his Jewish lawyer and friend Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) tried to set him up. The police inspector calls Dave Kleinfeld a "shyster".
Enemy of the State (1998 spy thriller film), one of the gangsters calls Will Smith's character a shyster, to which Smith responds: "I believe the slur 'shyster' is generally reserved for attorneys of the Jewish persuasion. I believe the proper term for someone like myself would be, ermm, eggplant."
"The West Wing" 2003 season 4 episode 21 "Life on Mars", Associate White House Council Joe Quincy (Matthew Perry) corrects Donna's claim that he is a "sawbones", indicating that since he is a lawyer and not a doctor, he is more accurately a "shyster".
The Wire 2003 season 2 episode 7 "Backwash", a prank regarding a paternity lawsuit includes fake papers with a telephone number to contact a lawyer that, when called, the prankster answers and identifies himself as "Shyster, Shyster, and Shyster"
Queer Duck: The Movie, a 2006 animated film, the title character is portrayed as working as a nurse in a hospital named "Shyster Extramente." (A veiled satire of the Kaiser Permanente hospital group)
Law and Order: SVU 2009 episode "Lead", Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) tells a couple of his detectives to talk to a hospital representative to find out information about a suit filed against them: "Talk to the hospital, find out what Keppler and his shyster lawyer are up to."