Piss: Urine = Anger? (WTF??)

Whence the connection between peeing or having to pee, or piss the substance itself, and anger?

Pissed off. Pissy mood. Full of piss (with or without vinegar).


I suppose that if you view anger as an emotion that must be “gotten rid of” by dumping it out in some expressive fashion, it could be metaphorically described as being akin to needing to pee, i.e., if you don’t the need grows worse and you get less and less picky about when and where. Is that it? (Seems like a real stretch but it’s the best I can come up with).

I reckon as how if I were to find myself being pissed on I’d be in a severely nasty and violent mood, but the nomenclature doesn’t seem to support it. People do say “pissed” but if there’s a directional adverb it is always “off”, not “on”.

I guess if I wet my pants I would also not be in the best of moods either, and you could describe me as “pissy” or “pissed”, but the mood would run more towards gloom and misery and humiliation, not anger (although irritability is a possibility).

Then there’s the British interpretation of “pissed”, which pertains to having consumed enough alcohol to be fupped duck, which not only causes one to piss a lot but also, with some personalities at any rate, leads to increased likelihood of violent acts. (Me, I just get silly and then go to sleep). A distinct possibility, I suppose.

The archives indicate that Cecil has not addressed the subject. Any vulgar etymologists care to step up and suggest an origin?

Isn’t “pee” derived from “piss”? I dont’ mean to be a smart ass, but isn’t that the case?

It’s a suitable metaphor, since it’s literally hot and acidic, and often foul-smelling.

The words that we associate with anger tend to be connected with these qualities: Cf. Spleen, bile, bitter, incensed, choleric, heated, fuming, acrimonious, etc.

This page just says that it seems to have developed in the WW II era:


I’ve always wanted the explanation to be related to a misunderstanding or mispronunciation of the word “irritate,” with someone long ago saying “That’s irritating,” and someone else thinking they said, “That’s urinating.” Or someone saying “I’m urinated,” when they should have said “I’m irritated.” Since “piss” can be a way of saying “urinate,” it was substituted. This theory, aside from being lame in other ways, doesn’t address the reason for adding “off.”

Okay, I know it’s unlikely. But once when I was considering the same question, that’s the scenario I imagined.

I always thought it might be associated with a wailing baby’s wet diaper. “Man, is he pissed!”

I suspect the idea goes back to the the old Greek “Four Humors” theory of medicine. Yellow bile (=urine, I suppose) was associated with fire and angry moods.

link below

piss - c.1300, from O.Fr. pissier “urinate,” from V.L. *pissiare, of imitative origin. As a pure intensifier (cf. piss-poor, piss-ugly, etc.) it dates from World War II. Pissed off is 1946, U.S. slang. Piss and vinegar first attested 1942.

From a Brit…

I’ve never understood why we use “pissed” to mean drunk (furthermore, why we say “pissed off” when you say “pissed” = angry).

However, we often say “I’m off out on the piss” for “I’m going out tonight and intend to drink several flagons of ale”. Mind you we also say “On the Sauce” to mean “on the piss”… sauce being a euphamism for the tipple in question… so maybe “on the piss” equates beer with urine (have you tasted some lagers in the pubs over here?). As in, “This beer tastes like piss”

This beer is piss
Therefore I’m on the piss
Therefore I’ll be pissed
Therefore, when I return home, my wife will be pissed off.

Just a wild stab in the dark. As Norman Bates may have said.

Even more confusing:
To be “pissed off” by your lover is not opposite to being “pissed on” by your lover.

The one I don’t get is “taking the piss.” I’m not even sure what it means.


As a Brit, I would use the term ‘pissed off’ in the same sense that Americans use ‘pissed’.

‘Taking the piss’ might be used in the following way:

Going up to a yobbish lout who is rather the worse for alcohol and asking him if he is indeed inebriated, would illicit the following response:

“Are you taking the f**king piss, or what ?”

Which could be interpreted as “do you REALLY want me to kick your head in ?”

“taking the piss” = “taking the Mick” = having a laugh at some other’s expense. Often including sarcasm. As in “that’s a nice shirt Dave’s wearing” “Are you taking the piss? it’s horrible!”

Similarly, “are you taking the piss…?!” can mean “you cannot be serious.”
From whence it sprang… no idea. Although a doctor once asked me for a urine sample. I said “you’ve got to be taking the piss, Doc.”

Not really on topic, but:

There were 2 flies on a toilet seat.
One left.
He got pissed off!

And eventually you end up nissed as a pewt. :rolleyes:

Isn’t piss actually basic?

And Americans use “pissed” and “pissed off” pretty much interchangeably, to mean “angry”. It’s comforting to know that those folks across the pond who don’t know how to speak the language agree on at least part of that :D.