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Pissed as a rat

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 06, 2010 at 15:14

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:

: :

: : 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)