Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Apr 3 18:28:09 UTC 2005

Gerald Cohen:

 >I think I see a plausible guess (speculative, but still...). Let's start
from "pee-warmer" and consider that one of things it can refer to is a shot
of liquor. ....

My casual speculation might be somewhat similar. But note that it's a mere
WAG, a speculation in thin air, since there is AFAIK absolutely no record
of "pee-warmer" meaning "shot of liquor". (I think this was given as one of
the *wrong* choices at a Web vocabulary quiz?)

James Landau:

 >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

But that's not what the record shows. Examples from 1890-1901 are found in
major urban newspapers.

I suppose that the mine's name reflects usage like "pea warmer" =
"humdinger" already in existence in 1877. This would be a reasonable name
for a mine at the time. Alternative possibility would be that the mine name
arose independently (say, from the name of its founder Peter Warmer or the
partnership of Messrs. Pea and Warmer or whatever); in that case the mine's
name would be a good candidate for the etymon of the later term IF the mine
were a famous success; however, this would seem unlikely since AFAIK the
on-line newspapers show no mention of this mine name except for the one
1877 instance (where it was mentioned with other mines in the area).

-- Doug Wilson

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