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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PISH, v., n. Gen.Sc. form of Eng. piss.

I. v., intr. 1. As in Eng., to urinate; also tr. to wet with urine.Sc. 1706 J. Watson Choice Coll. i. 53:
I trow my Hussy Meg had pisht it.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 12:
And pish and spew, and yesk and maunt.
Rnf. 1862 A. McGilvray Poems 166:
Only let him bend his knee, When the great are on him pishing.
wm.Sc. 1988 Scotsman (6 Feb)  viii:
Not having any idea of the cloud due to arrive in about 20 minutes he said: "So the hawks help tae keep the stuckies doon?" In reply I quoted him the old Scots saying: "Every drop helps," quoth the wren when she pished in the sea.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 116:
'Just think. Somewhere up there [in the stars], there micht be two mannies pishing and looking up and thinking if we are having a spree like they are.'

2. Of water: to gush, rush, splash forth (Abd.41931; ne.Sc., Kcb. 1966). Comb. pish-oot, a heavy downpour of rain, a thunder-plump (Ib.).Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 177:
Whar todlan rills war pishin'.
Abd. 1990:
E rain's fair pishin doon.
Edb. 1999:
It's pishin oot there.

3. (1) Only pished, Drunk.Edb. 1994 Gordon Legge I Love Me (Who Do You Love?) 89:
'Christ, I was pished, and anyway I'm not ashamed of that.'
Sc. 1998 The List (23 Jan-5 Feb) 54:
It's possible to sum up the feel of this album in two simple words: big fun. The Propellerheads, along with Bentley Rhythm Ace, seem to be leading the way in the big beat phenomenon, a sound which a colleague aptly described as 'noisy drums played by pished people'.

(2) Only pished, Afraid.m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 74:
" ... And she stood there so pished with dread she couldna move hand nor foot nor anything, and she couldna even think to cross hersel; ... "

II. n. 1. Urine. Also fig. something of no value, rubbish. Gen.Sc. Phr. no a pish, not a jot, not at all. Dim. pishock, the dandelion (Per. 1966). Cf. III. Combs. (6) below.Sc. 1752 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 155:
Some dead bodies covered quite over with pish and dirt.
Abd. 1777 R. Forbes in Sc. Poems 24:
He kens me sicker, leal, an' true, An' no a pish behind.
Fif. 1964 R. Bonnar Stewartie i. vii.:
Ye're just sittin' there haverin' a lot o' pish.
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 41:
Steys in a three-up in Easterhoose that's that bogging damp the paper's curling aff the walls, has to humph that pram doon three flights past pish, broken gless, auld hypodermics and Alsatian-shite.
Slg. 1998:
She came away with some pish about still being friends.

2. A heavy shower of rain (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 383). Cf. I. 2.

III. Combs.: (1) pis(h)-minnie, the ant (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 383; Cld., Gall., Dmf. 1825 Jam.; sm. and s.Sc. 1966) from the ammoniacal smell of an ant-heap. Cf. (2) and (3) below. Hence pishminnie-hillock, -tammocnock, an ant-hill (MacTaggart); (2) pismire, = (1) (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 74; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Kcb. 1936; Uls. 1966). Also in Eng. dial. and fig.; (3) pish-mither, -mother, = (1) (Slk. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ayr. 1930; Gall. 1966). Hence fleein' pish-mither, any small flying insect resembling an ant (Watson); (4) pishmool, = (1) (Uls. 1892 E.D.D.; Ayr. 1930); (5) pish-pot, a chamber-pot. Gen.Sc.; (6) pish-the-bed, the dandelion (Sc. 1896 Garden Work No. cxvi.; Sh., Cai., em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Gall., Uls. 1966), from its diuretic properties. Cf. Pee. Also used of other plants, e.g., the buttercup, the crowfoot (Bch. 1930). Also in Eng. dial.(2) Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 11:
Vernal warmths, Descending, rouse the pismires.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xviii.:
To rid the land of the swarm of Arminian caterpillars, Socinian pismires, and deistical Miss Katies.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xv.:
Amid the suave enveloping greatness of the world, the human pismires stung each other and were cruel.
(5) Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 43:
Pish-pots selling, an' braw china.
(6) Bch. 1930:
Thir's a heap o' that pish-the-beds i' the weet howe.

[O.Sc. pisch, 1500. The second element in the words for the ant derives orig. from Mid.Eng. mire, id. ( < O.E. *mīre), or the ablaut variant, O.N. maurr, North. Mid.Eng. maur, which seems to have been confused appar. with some childish reduced forms of mother and hence the variants -mither, -minnie (see Minnie). Mool may represent Muild, mould, earth. O.Sc. pismuill, ant, 1602.]

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"Pish v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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