In Reply to: Pissed as a rat posted by David FG on June 05, 2010 at 21:29:
: : : 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:
: : http://blogs.manapo.com/language/archives/080809000402.html
: : I don't recommend it, however.
: : SS
: To add to the vulgarity, a common (probably in every sense) usage in the British Isles is 'pissed as a fart' which also makes no sense at all.
Agree that "pissed as a rat" makes no sense; but "pissed as a newt" is based on the reasoning that newts breathe in water and therefore "drink" continuously. It's a parallel to "drink like a fish". Silly, yes, but it makes sense of a sort! (VSD)