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[pis-mahyuh r, piz-] /ˈpɪsˌmaɪər, ˈpɪz-/
an ant.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pismire
Historical Examples
  • 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.

  • You must understand he is an emmet of quality, and has better blood in his veins than any pismire in the molehill.

    Thackerayana William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Celia: You would never be satisfied and you to see me working from dark to dark as hard as a pismire in the tufts.

    Three Wonder Plays Lady I. A. Gregory
  • 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)
  • An ancient name for the ant is pismire, probably a Danish word, from paid and myre, signifying such ants as live in hillocks.

    Folk-lore of Shakespeare Thomas Firminger Thiselton-Dyer
  • At first he said he was a pismire, but the Speaker said pismire was not parliamentary, and he modified it to grasshopper.

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

  • You must understand he is an emmet of quality, and has better blood in his veins than any pismire in the mole-hill.

  • Observe how the whole swarm divide and make way for the pismire that passes through them!

    Thackerayana William Makepeace Thackeray
British Dictionary definitions for pismire


an archaic or dialect word for an ant
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
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Word Origin and History for pismire

"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.
Applied contemptuously to persons from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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