"pisspot" as opprobrious term

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jan 31 18:53:00 UTC 2008

OED has a single ex. of this as a "depreciative" term for a physician from 1592.

  However, as a general term of opprobrium, it is marked "orig. U.S.," which seems unlikely, but waddaya gonna do?  The earliest ex. given is from April Fool's Day, 1862.

  Here is one a tad earlier:

  1862 (Jan. 17) in Bell Irvin Wiley _The Life of Billy Yank_ (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1952) 201: God damned little piss-pot.

  And another from the same period:

  1861 in David Detzer _Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861_ (Orlando: Harcourt, 2004)
  52: We had got our haversacks most full when came an old woman with a broom & hollered like the devil sure enough. Sais she, if you don't get out of them potatoes I'll blow your brains out. Sais I, dry up, you old pispot.

  The point is that in my extreme youth ca1955, NYC tots were so benighted that just about the worst thing you could call somebody was a "pisspot," although none of us, I believe, had ever seen the real thing.  We also used to say, "Dry up!"


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