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Pissed as a rat

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 05, 2010 at 19:28

In Reply to: Pissed as a rat posted by Katie on June 05, 2010 at 18:46:

: Where does the phrase 'pissed as a rat' come from?

It appears to come from that impulse in speakers of the vernacular to make every modifier a part of a simile, and to use some vulgarism as a code for the modifier itself. Pissed, in Britain, means drunk. (In the U.S. it is most often a shortening of "pissed off," meaning mad as hell.) You might say "drunk as a skunk," and some Brits have been known to say "pissed as a newt," or even "pissed as a rat." But since neither newts nor rats are often seen drunk, the simile seems rather strained. I wouldn't expect to see this phrase in print before the 1990s. (I don't remember where I got that date.)

One Website with a discussion specifically of "pissed as a rat" has the URL:

I don't recommend it, however.