Origin of "Go Piss Up a Rope" and the H. in "Jesus H. Christ"?
January 19, 2004 4:14 PM   Subscribe

Excuse me, but can anyone tell me: What exactly is the origin of the phrase Go piss up a rope? I know it's present in the American South and Midwest, but did it originate elsewhere? Does the phrase occur in other countries? And how exactly does one piss up a rope? Does it mean Go climb a rope (similar to Piss off!), or literally Go urinate up a length of braided twine? And, while we're at it, what the hell does the H stand for in Jesus H Christ? I've always wondered. [...a little more inside]

Anyone else ever wonder about some of the inane expressions we humans use? Heck, the creative Finns sometimes use the curse Smell your bellybutton! These folks have some fun theories as to Jesus H, most notably:

Is that his middle name?
(jewish girl here)


As I understand it, H is Horatio. And it's there so you can swear without really swearing. You know.

YOU: (accidentally drowning your new puppy) Jesus H. Christ!
GOD: Okay, what the fuck was that?
YOU: No, Jesus H. Christ. Some other guy. Not you.
GOD: Oh, my bad.

And my dad's a priest. So I know.
posted by Shane to Writing & Language (12 answers total)
Oh god shane, that second one is great. "Okay, what the fuck was that?" reminds me so much of how a friend of mine talks...
posted by thebabelfish at 5:00 PM on January 19, 2004

I was going to post the lyrics to Ween's "Piss up a Rope," but I'd forgotten how incredibly offensive they are, without the 'hey, let's make fun of country music!' vibe of the album.

My favorite offensive curse is Romanian in origin. It's probably the most offensive thing I've ever heard, and runs: "Go back to your mother's cunt and jerk off the unborn foetus." I think these strange expressions run from a cultural tendency to dance around the bush and avoid being really, really outright offensive. The Romanians, it seems, have no such problem.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:22 PM on January 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

I don't know the origin, but consider the inevitable outcome of literally trying to piss up a rope. Not very pretty.
posted by ursus_comiter at 5:29 PM on January 19, 2004

The "H" obviously stands for "haploid", Shane.
posted by interrobang at 5:40 PM on January 19, 2004

Response by poster: The "H" obviously stands for "haploid", Shane.
Right, heh. Got it, "Gene." ;-)
And, points!, ursus! Big points for that one, LOL.

posted by Shane at 5:49 PM on January 19, 2004

Hallmark, 'cuz God sent the very best?
posted by Vidiot at 6:20 PM on January 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

The Straight Dope's answers to the Jesus H. Christ thing.
posted by Monster_Zero at 7:33 PM on January 19, 2004

The H. stands for "Harold".

You know, "Our father who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name."
posted by Space Coyote at 6:40 AM on January 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

kaibutsu, you wouldn't know the Romanian version of that would you? I asked a friend about it and this was her reply:

"we have a lot of swear words that involve the mother and certain body parts. I told you... in Romanian you can swear for days without repeating any words. In english you say fuck and you're done.

We're passionate imaginative people."
posted by Space Coyote at 6:50 AM on January 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All these comments, and still no one has told me to go piss up a rope for posting this! Excellent!
posted by Shane at 7:04 AM on January 20, 2004

My favorites tend to be Yiddish curses. I mean, "Black sorrow is all that his mother should see of him"... "He should marry the daughter of the Angel of Death"... we're talking serious curses here—makes "go piss up a rope" look like kindergarten.
posted by languagehat at 8:18 AM on January 20, 2004

Response by poster: "He should marry the daughter of the Angel of Death"

And it's probably doubly insulting when you consider that the Angel of Death is more than likely goy...
posted by Shane at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2004

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