Friday, October 22, 2010

Where Did Piss Poor Come From?

Where did Piss Poor come from?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families
Used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken &
Sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive
You were "Piss Poor"

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't
Even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to
Piss in" & were the lowest of the low

The next time you are washing your hands and complain
Because the water temperature isn't just how you like it,
Think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about
The 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their
Yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by
June. However, since they were starting to smell . ..... .
Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man
Of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then
All the other sons and men, then the women and finally the
Children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so
Dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the
Saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no
Wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get
Warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs)
Lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and
Sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof...
Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the
House. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs
And other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence,
A bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top
Afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other
Than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had
Slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet,
So they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their
Footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until,
When you opened the door, it would all start slipping
Outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big
Kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit
The fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly
Vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the
Stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
Overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew
Had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence
The rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas
Porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could
Obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When
Visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show
Off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home
The bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests
And would all sit around and chew the fat.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt
Bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests
Got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination
Would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.
Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and
Prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen
Table for a couple of days and the family would gather
Around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake
up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running
out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins
and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the
grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins
were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they
realized they had been burying people alive. So they would
tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night
(the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone
could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.


  1. Oh this made me laugh! ;) I didn't know the meaning behind 'piss poor'. See you've taught me something today and its early here!! ;) Love the pink roses here btw - so pretty!! ;)

  2. It's sad that the poorest of the poor suffer such indignities to survive. If only they could trademark these popular sayings and get something out of it! I use the present tense because poverty and inequalities in such forms exist globally still.

    Take care

  3. Love the origins of sayings. Gives them new meaning.
    My parents cleaned up the piss/pot saying for us kids. They would say that poor people "didn't have a pit to hiss in."

  4. Veeery Interesting!!! Really, loved to learn how some of these sayings originated. It's always interesting to learn how our language developed.

  5. It made me a bit sad, to think of all the inequality in the world, that existed then and still exists. These did give me a whole new perspective on so many of these oft-used phrases. Very interesting post.

  6. My favorite was the bathing cycle and the saying -- too funny. We live such luxurious lives nowadays, don't we...

    My hubby LETS me bathe everyday. : )

  7. Wow, those were amazing things. It is interesting to say the least of how we came up with different sayings.
    I am glad I am not piss poor.

    what about when I get in a pissy mood??

  8. I'm always interesting in learning where sayings come from. It is sad that so many of them are based on being poor.

  9. Oh this was my favorite post of the day! favorite of today as I came here a day after it was posted. Thank you for making me even more thankful for the blessings I have. :)

  10. Am I glad I live now and not then?
    Oh yeah!
    Happy Monday :)

  11. Talei,
    Thanks. My one surviving rose bush.

    Old Kitty,
    That really was an indignity when you compare it to modern plumbing.

    I could never say that word either... until recently. Old age must bring out the crude in us!!!!

    Me too. I love history.

    Yes and there still is. Sad as it may be!

    Lucky you. Hope you're high on the pecking bath order. Ha

    A "Pissy Mood" might be anothr "kettle of fish."

    And sometimes the poor don't even know they're poor.

    Aren't we all. Thanks for stopping.

    And I'm always most thankful for modern plumbing!!!

    Thank you everyone for stopping by. We have so much to be thankful for Manzanita