Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

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.

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'.

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.

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.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Pish v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2021 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: