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

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 12 20:03:40 UTC 2018

The use of the indefinite article seems odd to me. If it was just once, I would write it off as inaccurate reporting, but GO'T has two such citations plus one with the definite article. It seems odd for “take the piss” to result in indefinite article usage.

Although I have found some additional material for “mick” and “micky”, I found no evidence to tie them to this expression.

“To take the Michael” (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/take_the_Michael <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/take_the_Michael>, https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/to-take-the-michael.82813/ <https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/to-take-the-michael.82813/>) is an alternative to “to take the mickey”; however, I found no such citation in Google Books for the nineteenth century even with the indefinite article. Perhaps a periodical search would be more productive. 

“A Glossary of Words Used in the Neighbourhood of Sheffield, Volume 22, Issue 1” (https://bit.ly/2metQSM <https://bit.ly/2metQSM>) by Sidney Oldall Addy has “micky” as “dull, pale-faced” with an example of the face of someone who had been drinking the previous night, and the HDAS has “bottle of liquor” for “mickey” and “liquor flask” for “Michael", which could be related to Michael Bliss and his bar-room brawl.

The HDAS has penis and potato (is this in reference to the Great Famine?) for “mickey", and gives “mick” as a Roman Catholic though with only one citation. 

The HDAS gives “mick” as a hypocoristic of Michael as well as “mickey” to mean an Irish person, and has “take the mickey out of” as “to tease or mock” with the label of “perh. sugg. by Irish”.

The HDAS entry for “Irish” has: ire; (hence) fighting spirit, esp. in an Irish person. Examples begin with 1834: It raised the Irish in my pretty quick. 

“A Glossary of Words Used in the Neighbourhood of Sheffield also defines “mike” as “a rest, a respite from work”, which is surely unrelated.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

> On 12 Jul 2018, at 12:49, George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU> wrote:
> We need Robin Hamilton for this, but can't have him.
> My notion of rhyming slang suggests that there was a person named Michael
> Bliss who was alluded to in this term.  An athlete, politician, criminal,
> perhaps.  (Perhaps even an athletic criminal who was later elected to
> Parliament.)  I've checked the files of digitized 19th-20th C British stuff
> available to me, and have found nothing much.
> A Michael Bliss was arrested in a bar-room brawl, February, 1871 (British
> Library Newspapers).
> No one in British Periodicals (ProQuest) or 19th C UK Periodicals
> (Gale) or 19th
> Century Masterfile: 1106-1930.
> A Mike Bliss may be a character in The Cotton Spinners, A Tale of
> Lancashire Mill Life and Airship Adventure, from a 1908 magazine, but the
> main character seems to be Fred Sanders.  British Periodicals (ProQuest)
> I'd suggest that anyone searching further should look for "Micky" as well
> as "Mickey", and that "Mike" could well be pronounced "Mick".
> On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 12:02 PM, Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:
>> 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:
>> https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/344000.html<https://
>> www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/344000.html>
>> 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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