pea-warmer / pee-warmer
James A. Landau
JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Sun Apr 3 17:20:00 UTC 2005
In a message dated:Sat, 2 Apr 2005 22:38:19 -0500, "Douglas G. Wilson"
_douglas at NB.NET_ (mailto:douglas at NB.NET) writes:
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".
Folk-physiology, hmm. As in the old expression, "full of piss and vinegar"?
Or "my heart pumps warm piss" (meaning "I am not impressed").
Here's a guess: in "the" Dakotas there may have arisen the term
"piss-warmer" for a fire that was not adequate to keep one warm, and the owner of the
mine, disappointed at its original production, named it that. Later, when the
mine became more productive, the meaning changed to "humdinger". Or it may
have had something to do with the way urine, which is at body heat, melts its
way through snow.
The reason this phrase, bowdlerized or not, died out is that it was a
strictly regional coinage and never entered the general run of American English.
- Jim Landau
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