take the piss

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Possibly from piss-proud (falsely presenting as successful). In which case taking the piss out of would mean deflating their false pride, usually through disparagement or mockery.[1] As the piss-proud metaphor became dated, taking the piss out of someone came to refer to disparagement or mockery itself, regardless of the pride of the subject. Eventually the shortened, intransitive form taking the piss became common.


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take the piss (third-person singular simple present takes the piss, present participle taking the piss, simple past took the piss, past participle taken the piss) (out of)
(Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, vulgar, slang, idiomatic, transitive)

  1. To tease, ridicule or mock (someone).
    • 1987, Judy Vermorel, Sex Pistols: the inside story[2], page 16:
      You know, cos he was like taking the piss out of them and they took the piss out of him.
    • 1999, Carole Zucker, In the company of actors: reflections on the craft of acting[3], page 152:
      A lot of that stuff that people take the piss out of all the time is actually useful.
  2. To subject those present to teasing, ridicule or mockery, or to show contempt.
    • 2008, Will Swanton, Some Day: Inside the Dream Tour and Mick Fanning's 2007 Championship Win, [4]
      He's either taking it easy or taking the piss by arriving at the eleventh hour.
  3. To be outrageously unreasonable.
    I've got three exams on the same day! That's taking the piss!

Usage notes[edit]

  • As this phrase may be found offensive, it is often bowdlerised to take the pee or censored in print as “take the p***” or, less commonly, “take the p—”. A common jocular euphemism is extract the urine, a formal equivalent of the literal meaning of the words.

Alternative forms[edit]


Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Quinion, Michael (1999-08-14) World Wide Words: Take the piss[1], retrieved 2011-01-07