Piss-ant discovery

New word for the day: pismire = ant.

From “piss” and “mire”, apparently due to the “urinous smell of an anthill” – I’ve never noticed such a smell, but maybe European ants are stinkier than upstate NY ants…

“Mire” here doesn’t mean mud. It’s another word entirely – an old-school word for “ant”. There’s something like it in lots of the Germanic languages. Interestingly, some scholars think it comes from a root which gives us “mig” and such Latinate joys as “micturition”. “Mig” is defined by one “Atkinson” in his Cleveland Glossary:

Mig, liquid manure; the fluid which runs away from the midden, or from the stall drains of a cow-house, &c.

That is to say, mig = piss.

So, poor Pissy Emmet the piss-ant is defamed in both syllables of pismire. And he doesn’t escape it in Latin “formica” (or descendants like Spanish hormiga) either – you can guess where those last two syllables come from. Sadly, I don’t have the resources to determine whether “myrmex” in Greek comes from the same root. It would be a grave indignity for Achilles, whose compatriots the Myrmidons took their name from the ant, if this were so.

Not surprisingly, looking up “pismire” in the Promptorium Parvulorum puts you in a pretty funny section. Here are three consecutive entries:
PYSMERE. Formica.
PYSMERYSHYLLE. Formicarium
PYSPOTT, idem quod pyssynge vessel, supra.

That last one just cracks me up!

119 Responses to “Piss-ant discovery”

  1. Masako Coriell Says:

    thanks for your post! I’ve been looking through your blog for a little while now and i’m certainly loving it. I actually have some questions regarding your post though. You think that it will be ok for me to contact you further more to go over it? Perhaps setup a chat through email or even an instant messanging application? If it is not, thank you anyhow and I will continue to read and comment.

  2. Blaine Bardales Says:

    Hi I like this comment and it is so fabulous and I am definetly going to bookmark it. One thing to say the Superb analysis this article has is greatly remarkable.No one goes that extra mile these days? Bravo.. Just another suggestion you shouldinstall a Translator Application for your Worldwide Readers 🙂

  3. celt sound system Says:

    family surround acoustic systems are the best way to get the total benefit from your audio players

  4. Jannette Munda Says:

    Hello, I like this .it’s really useful to me. If you are looking for other I could have tried to assist in the link of mine .Please test my hyperlink, You’ve would possibly founds another things you like .Thank You.

  5. samsung surround sound Says:

    personal surround acoustic models are the best method of getting the whole worth from the audio players

  6. thai escorts Says:

    Its really a great post, the content is impressive I’m feeling grateful to read this post and got to know how many things happened at that point of time.

  7. dfgfgf Says:

    Excellent issues?I’d notice that as anyone who actually doesn’t write on blogs a lot (in reality, this can be my first put up), I don’t suppose the time period ‘lurker’ may be very changing into to a non-posting reader. It’s no longer your fault in the least , however in all probability the blogosphere could come up with a greater, non-creepy name for the ninety% folks that experience reading the content .

  8. long beach nc vacation rentals Says:

    Hi Gary,

  9. Jaleesa Purpora Says:

    You made several nice points there. I did a search on the matter and found nearly all persons will go along with with your blog.

  10. hemroid cream Says:

    I am glad that I detected this website , precisely the right info that I was looking for! .

  11. Jenna@gelantfarm.net Says:

    Are you saying that mire was a word used for ants. Or were you referring to the foul ant odor as “mire”?

  12. Toshia Hartshorn Says:

    Wow! Thank you! I continually wanted to write on my site something like that. Can I implement a fragment of your post to my website?

  13. Dane Cook Says:

    Very well, I will typically come right here ! I promise that!

  14. Lee Dirkson Says:

    Hello.This article was really fascinating, particularly because I was investigating for thoughts on this issue last Saturday.

  15. Samek Says:

    this is very nice thank you

  16. American Girl Rebecca Says:

    did i see teix batting 2nd?

  17. Teresita Sobie Says:

    It’s hard to find educated individuals on this subject, however you sound like you realize what you’re speaking about! Thanks

  18. Boetcher Says:

    travesti, travestiler,  hppt://www.pitonpakizeyle.com

  19. Cristine Richie Says:

    Got a few complications looking at the website in Safari using the Mac, however I still liked the site!