Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Symbols Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

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.]

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 3 Oct 2022 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: