Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ingredients: piss and vinegar

The earliest citation of “piss and vinegar” comes from John Steinbeck’s 1938 Grapes of Wrath. However, similar phrases such as “full of piss and wind” (1922), “full of pep and vinegar” (1927) and even “piss vinegar” (1602, meaning to be miserly) have been around a lot longer.

In the 1920’s, the word “vinegar” was used to mean vitality and energy. It is likely that the phrase “piss and vinegar” originated during this time, perhaps on college campuses, given that “vinegar” was well-used college slang.

Another variation of “piss and vinegar” is “pith and vinegar,” supposedly a more polite version. But some would argue that the variation
“robs it of the imagery of acrid, energetically boiling fluids and conjures up instead a sodden, vinegar-soaked mass of pith.”
This brings me to the definition of “piss and vinegar,” which you may know already. The phrase is an idiom meaning full of energy and enthusiasm. Other than being the title of several songs, Piss & Vinegar is also a line of men’s underwear. Catchy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any questions, comments or concerns? Share them here.