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Taking the mick/mickey/michael

Posted by ESC on October 21, 1999

In Reply to: Origins: Taking the Michael/Mickey posted by SJ on October 20, 1999

: Does anyone know the origins of where this English expression came from? I've been trying to explain it to a Canadian colleague of mine who understands the meaning but we are interested to see how it generated. Would appreciate some help. Thanks

I've never heard this expression. (I'm from the U.S.) But here's what it says in "The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne (Pantheon Books):

"take the mick/mickey/michael -- vb. British -- to mock, deride, poke fun at. These expressions are milder versions of 'take the piss.' Unbeknownst to most users, they employ rhyming slang: Mickey is short for a mythical 'Mickey Bliss,' providing the rhyme for 'piss.' 'Michael' is a humorous variant. The phrases, like their more vulgar counterpart, have been in use since the 1940s."

"take the piss (out of someone) vb. British -- to mock, deride, poke fun (at). This vulgarism has been in widespread use since the late 1940s. The original idea evoked by the expression was that of deflating someone, recalling the description of a self-important blusterer as 'all piss and wind.'"