pea-warmer / pee-warmer

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Apr 3 18:07:53 UTC 2005

Thanks Doug, Jerry, and Jim (did I miss anybody?) for the comments.  There is a missing piece to this puzzle somewhere.


"James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "James A. Landau"
Subject: Re: pea-warmer / pee-warmer

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

Yahoo! Messenger
 Show us what our next emoticon should look like. Join the fun.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list