Posted by ESC on November 17, 2000
In Reply to: Taking the Mickey posted by Malcolm on November 17, 2000
: Who or what was Mickey, and why do we take him?
: [Obviously there are also cruder versions of this phrase.]
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.'"