#131 – TO PISS AROUND/ABOUT/AWAY/DOWN/OFF


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Hello, My name is Luke Thompson. You’re listening to ‘A Phrasal Verb a Day’ and this is a slightly special episode of ‘A Phrasal Verb a Day’. This one is going to be a bit longer than episodes usually are and, in fact, this episode contains lots of, lots of rude language, OK, swear words and other slightly explicit content. So, I should just let you know in advance that you’re going to hear some rude language in this episode.

You should be a bit careful with swearing and using rude language in English. You do find that native English speakers use rude expressions quite frequently in certain situations, often in sort of informal social moments, things like that. But as a learner of English you just need to use some caution and discretion when you use rude language, and just remember that it’s only really OK when you’re with, you know, close friends in a very informal context. And if you use these phrases in, you know, slightly more formal situations then, you know, that can sound really, really bad. But… so, just use the phrases with a bit of discretion. That’s all. So I’m going to teach you phrasal verbs and expressions that relate to the word ‘piss’, so this episode is all about the word ‘piss’. And you’re going to hear phrases like ‘to piss about’ or ‘piss around’, ‘to piss away’, ‘to piss down’ and of course the classic expression ‘piss off’ as well. So, lots of different things all related to the word ‘piss’.

So, let’s see, in English world the word ‘piss’ is a fairly rude word. It’s not quite as rude as some of the other swear words that we have in English. If you’d like to get a full rundown of full description of all of the rude language in English and a whole sort of graded explanation of from like slightly rude stuff to the most rude language you can possibly imagine, then you can refer to another episode of my other podcast which is ‘Luke’s English Podcast’, episode 83 ‘How to Swear in British English’, okay? So, that covers all of the swear words. So, just go to my website techerluke.co.uk and find episode 83 and that’ll teach you everything you need to know about swearing. But his one is all about the word ‘piss’.

So, piss is basically urine, OK, and ‘to piss’ means to urinate, all right? So, that’s the basic meaning of the word “piss”. But there are a few phrasal verbs as well that use this as a sort of base verb. So, let’s start with “piss about” or “piss around”, okay? “To piss around” or “piss about” and this can mean to, sort of, to just sort of, do things in not (a) very serious way, to mess around, to just sort of do things without any sense of seriousness. And it could be behaving in a way that annoys other people as well. So, if you can imagine, if you’re teaching, let’s say, if you’ve got a room full of students and you want them to focus on the lesson but you may have some people at the back of the room who are talking and maybe messing around with their phones and they’re not really focusing and you just think to yourself “Oh, that’s annoying”. And they just… They keep pissing about at the back of the class. All right?

Now, you wouldn’t say to the students:

– Oh! Stop pissing around!

Obviously you can’t say that because it’s too rude. You might say:

– Stop messing around! Can you focus on your work, please, and stop messing around?

Even that is a bit strong but, you know, you might think to yourself ‘Oh! They keep pissing around. It’s really annoying’.

So, another one is to basically just waste time by doing things that are not very important, so, you know, you might, sort of, have a day off and… You’ve got the whole day ahead of you and you think ‘I’m going to do so many things. I’m going to achieve lots of things’ but then you start going on the Internet and you end up wasting all your time and you realise that you just pissed about the whole day, you know, you would just… you spent all of your time just pissing around and not really doing anything in particular. So you’re just sort of wasting your time, doing unimportant things, to piss around.

– So, what are you doing today? Oh, nothing. I’m just going to hang around at home and just sort of piss about doing this, that and the other, you know?

And another expression, another use of ‘piss around’ or ‘piss about’ would be to, sort of, treat people badly, to treat people in a way that’s unfair, you know, to be unreliable. And that would be like:

– Stop pissing me about, would you? Can you just tell me the truth and stop pissing me about?

Okay? That’s to, kind of, treat people badly. Okay. So, that’s ‘piss about’ or ‘piss around’.

You also have the expression ‘to piss away’ or ‘to piss something away’.

– So, what did you do for your holiday? You had, you know, four weeks off.
– I didn’t really do anything. I just pissed it all away.

just to waste time. You can also waste money. Let’s imagine that you won a thousand pounds on the lottery and you don’t spend it on anything in particular. You just piss it all away on, like, you know, just going out for meals and things like that.

– I just pissed it all away

for example. OK. You wasted it. You didn’t use it properly. OK?

Now, ‘to piss down’. Now, this is probably a particularly British expression because, you know, in the UK our weather is very changeable and the stereotype is that in Britain it’s just raining all the time. It’s not really true. It doesn’t rain all the time. We get plenty of nice blue sky and stuff (but mostly stuff though) but it does rain, probably a bit more than in other countries and, so naturally we have expressions in our language that we use to talk about how much it’s raining and you might say:

– It’s absolutely pissing down

or

– It’s pissing it down

as well and it’s like saying that the rain is pouring down quite heavily.

Now, there are other expressions, things like:

– It’s raining cats and dogs

but, to be honest, most British people don’t say that. They probably… It’s quite likely that they would say:

– It’s absolutely pissing it down outside. You’re going to need an umbrella.

or

– It’s pissing down outside

for example. You might say ‘it’s pouring’ or ‘pouring with rain’ as well. So, that’s ‘to piss down’ means ‘to rain heavily’.

And then finally we have ‘to piss off’, OK? ‘Piss off’ is quite a common phrase and it’s going to have a few different meanings. One of them just means ‘to leave’. It’s just to leave because you don’t want to be there any more, you know? So, you know, you might go to a party with the friend and you’re sort of at the party and you think ‘This party’s rubbish. It’s really boring. No one’s having good time’ and you say to your friend – Come on. Let’s piss off – meaning ‘let’s leave’, OK.

– Let’s piss off, shall we? This is boring

for example. So, it means to leave. You don’t want to be there. You’re just… Let’s leave. Let’s piss off.

It also could mean, when you tell someone to go away. Let’s say someone is really annoying you and you’re quite angry with that person, you want them to go away and you just can say:

– Oh, piss off!

OK? Which is quite a powerful thing to say to someone. It’s a very rude thing to say:

– Oh, piss off!

you know? Now, you can sometimes use that to disagree with what someone has said, you know, like, for example, oh, what would it be… I mean, like… OK. The other day, actually, I had this experience that I was out and I was talking to some people and I met this girl and I do know where she was from but she basically… We were talking and she used the opportunity to just suddenly start telling me about how bad English food was. So, we were talking about something else, like… We were talking about George Clooney and his coffee adverts and then she said – Oh yeah, but English coffee is really disgusting – and we were having kind of a funny chat, so I just turned to here and I just said – Oh, piss off! – and it was quite rude but I think because of the situation she took it with good humour. But it’s the sort of think you can say when you just disagree with the statement that someone has said.

– Oh, piss off!

you know, meaning ‘I disagree’. But it can mean ‘go away’:

– Piss off you! Get out of my garden! That’s it. Go home! Piss off!

Yeah. So that obviously is quite a rude thing.

And then also ‘to piss someone off’ or ‘You’re pissing me off’ means that you’re really annoying me, okay? So, you know:

– That’s really pissing me off, that is.

which is like saying:

– That’s really annoying to me

okay? And, you know:

– Oh, I think I pissed him off.

which means

– I think I made him annoyed

So, to piss someone off is to make someone annoyed.

So, there you go. So, stop pissing around, okay? Why don’t you get down to some learning of English, you know? Don’t piss away your time. Go to teacherluke.co.uk and you can actually start, you know, learning English, listening to real English as it’s spoken. Maybe, you know, if it’s rainy outside, if it’s pissing it down, you might want to just stay in and listen to episodes of my podcast, OK?

And, at the end of the episode, because this is a rude one, I can just tell you that’s it. That’s the end of this extra long episode of A Phrasal Verb a Day. Now, piss off!