pea-warmer / pee-warmer

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Apr 2 06:29:31 UTC 2005

>Is anybody familiar with either of these terms?

Hardly anybody, I suspect.

>If "pea" is the correct form, as our exx. suggest, what the ?????  HDAS
>III needs to know.

Quick newspaper search turns up a half dozen instances in the early 1890's,
usually with the apparent sense "humdinger" or "doozie" or "something

I find one instance as the name of a mine near Deadwood in 1877.

One might speculate that the original or genuine form was "piss-warmer"; if
this was the case, and if the expression was infrequent/obscure, it might
have been written with "pea" as a euphemism (which maybe was the only form
which would be printable) (cf. "do a sweet pea" = "urinate").

One obvious question is whether "piss-warmer" exists or existed. I find it
as an ostensibly genuine lexical item only once in Web search, in the
Multitran Russian-English dictionary where it is equated to Russian
"prijatnoe" or "priyatnoye" or whatever (spelled with 8 Cyrillic letters
p-r-i-ya-t-n-o-[y]e) ... I guess "something great/fine/pleasant" or so. [My
Russian is near-nonexistent, even weaker than my English; maybe one of the
savants can improve/correct my impression here.] The fact that a bunch of
what appear to be Maori words appear in this dictionary suggests that
sources of the English words here may have included NZ English (and who
knows what-all else).

Of course "piss-warmer" might could be derived from "pea-warmer" instead of
vice versa.

-- Doug Wilson

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