Bad words (specifically "piss")

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Tue Jul 9 14:34:16 UTC 2002

On Mon, 8 Jul 2002, Laurence Horn wrote:

#I suspect there's a distinction between the literal, simple verb on
#the one hand and compound forms and/or those with metaphorical import
#on the other--not just "pisspot" and "pissenlit" but "piss off",
#"pissed" (meaning either 'drunk' in Britain or 'angry' in the U.S.,
#leading to some great misunderstandings, as it happens), "pissant",
#"piss-poor", and so on.  I can imagine all these being used, given
#the occasion, by a speaker who would nevertheless shy away from using
#"piss" tout court for the bodily function or fluid.

On the TV series _The Waltons_ -- I think in an extra-long program,
maybe a special -- one of the kids complained, "Mama, he called me a
pissant!" I was at first shocked at the use of the word "piss" on prime
time. It took me a minute to work out "pissant" (not a word I was
familiar with) and realize that it didn't count as a case of "piss" for
the fictional family, or apparently for the network censors either.

-- Mark A. Mandel

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