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

Thu Jul 12 16:02:29 UTC 2018

Thanks.  I of course thought of “take the Mickey Mouse,” but couldn’t bring myself to ignore the vowel, and “take the Mickey Mice” seemed improbable on its face as well as an imperfect rhyme.

John Baker

From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Arnold M. Zwicky
Sent: Thursday 12 July 2018 10:41 AM
Subject: Re: to troll =? take the mickey

> On Jul 12, 2018, at 7:23 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>> On Jul 12, 2018, at 10:22 AM, Baker, John <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
>> Can you explain the Mickey/piss rhyme? I assume it’s cockney, but I don’t know a word that would naturally follow Mickey and rhymes with piss.
> Well, there’s “mouse”, if you ignore the vowel.

from the Phrase Finder site, here:


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Take the Mickey'?
Tease or make fun of.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Take the Mickey'?!
There are various forms of this: take/extract the Mick/Mickey/Michael, although the 'take the Mickey' version is most often used in print.

It is sometimes reported that the phrase originates as a variant of the slang phrase 'take the piss' and the the 'Mickey' refers to micturate. This seems rather fanciful and there's no evidence to support that view. It is now more generally accepted that the phrase came about as rhyming slang. 'Taking the piss' does play its part as the rhyming slang refers to a (yet to be identified) character called Mickey Bliss. So, 'taking the piss' became 'taking the Mickey Bliss' and then just 'taking the Mickey'. An early citation of the longer form 'taking the Mickey Bliss' would be useful here, but I've not come across one.

Taking the piss is reported as originating in the UK in the 1930s and 'taking the Mickey' probably came not long afterwards. The first form of the phrase in print - as 'take the mike' - comes from 1935, in George Ingram's _Cockney Cavalcade_:

"He wouldn't let Pancake 'take the mike' out of him."

The precise wording - 'take the Mickey' doesn't appear in print until a few years later. The earliest I've found as yet is in J. Henry's _Who lie in Gaol_, 1952:

"She's a terror. I expect she'll try and take the mickey out of you all right. Don't you stand for nothin'."

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