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pismire

[pis-mahyuh r, piz-]
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noun
  1. an ant.
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Origin of pismire

1350–1400; Middle English pissemyre, equivalent to pisse to urinate + obsolete mire ant, perhaps < Scandinavian (compare Danish myre, Swedish myra), cognate with Dutch mier; pejorative name from stench of formic acid proper to ants
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pismire

Historical Examples

  • At first he said he was a pismire, but the Speaker said pismire was not parliamentary, and he modified it to grasshopper.

    Punchinello, Vol. 1, No. 8, May 21, 1870

    Various

  • I've got a thousand-legged worm at the head of a pismire flush, and it serves us right, for a lot of slovens.

    Woodcraft and Camping

    George Washington Sears (Nessmuk)

  • Bache tells us that pismire was also banned, antmire being substituted for it.

    The American Language

    Henry L. Mencken

  • As if we should look upon an ant or pismire, the parts fly the sight, and the whole considered is almost nothing.

  • Thou art no more than a pismire; why wilt thou seek to provoke the elephants?


British Dictionary definitions for pismire

pismire

noun
  1. an archaic or dialect word for an ant
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Word Origin

C14 (literally: urinating ant, from the odour of formic acid characteristic of an ant hill): from piss + obsolete mire ant, of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse maurr, Middle Low German mīre ant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pismire

n.

"ant," late 14c. (early 14c. as a surname), from pyss "urine" (said to be in reference to the acrid smell of an anthill) + mire "an ant," probably from Old Norse maurr "ant" (cf. Swedish myra, Danish myre, Middle Dutch miere, Dutch mier, Crimean Gothic miera "ant"), from PIE base *morwi- (see Formica (2)). Cf. pissant, also early Dutch mierseycke (from seycke "urine"), Finnish kusiainen (from kusi "urine").

He is as angry as a pissemyre,
Though þat he haue al that he kan desire.
[Chaucer]

Applied contemptuously to persons from 1560s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper