pea-warmer / pee-warmer

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Apr 3 03:38:19 UTC 2005

>"Pea- / pee-warmer" appears to mean "humdinger," if we can believe the
>roughly half-dozen citations found in print between 1877 and
>1901.  Naturally, all are spelled as "pea-," not "pee-."
>The earliest ex. is as the name of a mine in the Dakota Territory.
>There are no independent cites known after 1901, except for the one on the
>Net that claims a "pea-warmer " to be a little brassiere.  Right.
>The semantic and etymological puzzles here are inseparably entwined, along
>with the mysteries of  1) why "pea-warmer" (esp. if understood as
>"pee-warmer") should have so completely fallen from use, and 2) how the
>guy on the Net happened to hear it.

I've never heard "pea-warmer" or "piss-warmer" AFAIK. I've heard
"piss-cutter" (rarely) and "pisser" in about the same sense (also the
likely euphemism/derivative "pistol").

How old are "piss-cutter" and "pisser" in the "humdinger" sense? How are
they related to "piss-warmer"?

What about "pissant"? In one of the on-line instances "pea warmer" has more
this type of sense, it seems.

I don't see an obviously likely etymology for "piss-warmer" or for
"pea-warmer", but "piss-cutter" is even more inexplicable, I think.
Conceivably the "piss-" words might be based on some perhaps forgotten
folk-physiology, along the lines of "piss-proud".

It is possible that the "tiny brassiere" usage is entirely independent and
coincidental ... or maybe not.

-- Doug Wilson

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