[Ads-l] to troll =? take the mickey

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 11 23:42:31 UTC 2018

My understanding of “take the mickey/piss out of someone” is to talk in a manner to incite someone to irritation or anger as a generally accepted social ritual for humor. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taking_the_piss <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taking_the_piss>) has a more expansive definition.

In AmE, I would be inclined to say “fuck with/play around someone”, though the semantic range seems a little different.

It occurred to me recently that “troll” may be closer to “take the mickey”.

Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/troll#Verb <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/troll#Verb>) says: (Internet slang) to provoke, harass or annoy. The OLD (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/troll <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/troll>) says: Make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.

Both of those definitions sound like the object of trolling is inflammatory, but there is a usage such as, “I’m just trolling you”, meaning, “I’m just joking around/fucking with you” with a light humorous sense instead of a sinister one.

1. Urban Dictionary (I stopped at page 10)
a. Oni-Unit December 27, 2005
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll&page=3 <https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll&page=3>
Not all trolls go to a message board and spam it with flames, racism, and Goatse before getting banned 5 minutes later. Trolling is a hobby in the same vein as prank phone calls, and the true objective of trolling is to be clever and creative in getting a reaction out of the troll victims.

b. BadBoyBubby June 13, 2005
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll&page=7 <https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll&page=7>
Trolls are also a source of genuine humour, which depends entirely upon whether the troll is a good or a bad troll. It's usually fairly easy to spot the difference between such actions: a bad troll resorts only to weak uncreative arguments whereas a good troll will create a subtle set of arguments which draw people in with cunning twists to provide a thread of non sequitur humour.

2. Want You Gone
20 April 2017
Chris Brookmyre
https://bit.ly/2zy3EfG <https://bit.ly/2zy3EfG>
	'There is no problem. I’m just trolling you, Jack.’
	Parlabane shakes his head, lets out a laugh despite himself.
	‘You really had me there,” he admits.

3. Dragon Lady: A Gender Swapped LitRPG Adventure
4 January 2018
Alyson Belle
https://bit.ly/2N8hRlv <https://bit.ly/2N8hRlv>
He laughed and clapped me on the shoulder. “Oh, relax, Goldie. I’m just trolling you all….

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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