"ant," late 14c., pisse-mire (early 14c. as a surname, Henricus pessemere), from pyss "urine" (said to be in reference to the acrid smell of an anthill) + mire "an ant" (mid-13c., early 13c. as a surname), perhaps from an unattested Old English word or from Old Norse maurr "ant" (cognate with Swedish myra, Danish myre, Middle Dutch miere, Dutch mier, Crimean Gothic miera "ant"), from PIE *morwi- (see Formica (2)). Compare pissant, also Old Frisian pis-imme, Norwegian migemaur (first element from Latin mingere); early Dutch mierseycke (with seycke "urine"), Finnish kusiainen (with kusi "urine").
He is as angry as a pissemyre,
Though þat he haue al that he kan desire.
Applied contemptuously to persons from 1560s.
updated on June 22, 2020
Dictionary entries near pismire