Open Wounds

P is for Piss

OuthouseThere is a lot of versatility inherent in the word piss (Greek ὀμείχειν (omeikhein), “to urinate”). It also has a great sound. It sounds like it’s act when you focus only on the act of urination (onomatopoeia). But there are other uses far and wide for pissing. For example:

  • I piss.
  • I have pissed.
  • I am pissing.
  • In the process of pissing, I am a pisser.
  • I’ve been pissed on.
  • You’re a pisser (meaning funny or encourage-able).
  • Don’t piss around (waste time).
  • I’m pissed off (meaning angry).
  • Go piss off (get out of here).
  • I’m getting pissed (angry).
  • I’m getting pissed (drunk).
  • Let’s have a piss up (drinking session).
  • Don’t piss me off (as a warning).
  • It’s a pissing contest (either a real contest to see who can piss the furthest or longest, or a metaphor for a game of one-upmanship).
  • I’m standing in a pool of piss (either really standing in one or a metaphor for being in deep trouble).
  • I don’t have a pot to piss in (meaning poor).
  • You’re a piss pot (or a receptacle for piss)
  • I’ve engaged in piss play (a golden shower, a sexual act of pissing on another).
  • Don’t piss down my back (ruin what I’ve done).
  • You are a pissant (worthless person – comes from the 14th century word for a type of ant – pismire).
  • Those are piss-ants (large wood ants that piss alot).
  • This place smells like piss (olfactory usage).
  • Don’t be so pissy (irritable).
  • You’re a piss stain (insult).
  • He pissed his pants (fear).
  • Wicked pissah (really good thing).
  • Piss rhymes with bliss – I’m just saying.

Here’s from the King James version of the bible:

2 Ki 18:27 But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

And Shakespeare:

1611 Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation. — Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1.

or

1601 O Jove, a beastly fault! And then another fault in the semblance of a fowl; think on ’t, Jove; a foul fault! When gods have hot backs, what shall poor men do? For me, I am here a Windsor stag; and the fattest, I think, i’ the forest. Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow? Who comes here? my doe? — Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 5, Scene 5.

A.S.King, in her book Everybody Sees the Ants (an awesome, brutal, wonderfully written coming of age tale) uses a bully pissing on the protagonists shoes as a key plot point. James Clavell, in Shogun has a scene early on of men pissing on the backs of prisoners – a scene that has stayed with me for over thirty years. These are writers using all the tools human beings in all their majesty, their light and their dark, have given them.

Sometimes human nature and the English language come together… beautifully.

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5 responses

  1. That photo is wicked pissah. Piss is for men, pee is for boys.

    It’s interesting that you mention Shogun. It’s one of my all time favorite novels, even if it matches history very closely. It’s too bad Clavell’s other novels are not nearly as good. Gai-Jin, for example, had so much potential, but I had to force my way to the end.

    April 18, 2012 at 7:45 am

    • Shogun is an incredible book and one of my favorites also. I can see why it would be one of yours. I enjoyed Gai-Jin more than you but don’t forget King Rat (brutal). – Joe

      April 18, 2012 at 8:33 am

      • I haven’t read King-Rat (yet), but I’ve heard it’s good. I could not get into Whirlwind, and have not yet tried Nobel House.

        April 18, 2012 at 8:35 am

      • I tried both books but could not get into either. King rat is short for Clavell, and tightly written. The movie with George seal? Is also worth seeing.

        April 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

      • I’ll keep both on my radar.

        April 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

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