Pismire - was: Re: Book IDs (a longish delurk)

Bodil Gram bodil at cutisan.dk
Mon Jan 31 14:27:21 EST 2000


Philip wrote:

>According to the copy of Chambers' 20th Century Dictionary that my next-door
>colleague keeps on his window sill (or possibly window cill, but ISTR Gair
>always sat on a window sill in Garholt):
>
>Pismire, the ant or emmet.  Probably from Piss, from the stink of the anthill.


The "mire" part must have the same root as the Scandinavian words for
"ant". We call the little critter a "myre" or "maur", depending on what
country we are from.

In Danish a red ant is called a "tissemyre", and the verb to "tisse" is a
marginally more polite version of the related Danish verb, to "pisse",
which should be immediately recognisable to English speakers....

Red ants are supposed to sting, bite and generally pee on you in every
possible way, and in my childhood some children were petrified of them.
Given that our local red ants are minuscule and pretty harmless compared to
what you read about in other climates, that was silly, of course.

Friendly greetings,
Bodil



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