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The term pissant dates from the 1660s, though its roots go back to the 1300s. We will examine the definition of pissant, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A pissant is an inconsequential person, someone who is small or insignificant. Pissant is a slightly vulgar term and is not generally used in polite society. The term pissant originally referred to a type of European ant known as the wood ant. Wood ants make their nests out of pine needles and other forest floor materials. These nests smell like urine due to the formic acid in the ants’ venom. The word pissant is derived from the word pismire from the fourteenth century. Pismire is a combination of the word piss, meaning urine, and mire, meaning ant. Pissant is a compound word, which is a word that is derived from two separate words joined together. Pissant is sometimes seen as a hyphenated word, as in piss-ant, but the Oxford English Dictionary lists pissant as a closed compound word.


The New England Patriots quarterback appears on the Kirk & Callahan Show every Monday but that arrangement is in doubt after a host on another show, Alex Reimer, called his daughter “an annoying little pissant” last week. (The Guardian)

And of course Johnson himself continued to express negative views of African Americans even as he pushed for civil-rights legislation, and the war in Vietnam was premised that the inhabitants of this “pissant” country, as Johnson called it, could be crushed into submission. (The Atlantic)

“There is, as we speak — and there has been for the past year — a barrage of slander and libel aimed at Roger by pissants, who will never accomplish even 5 percent of what he did,” Mr. Limbaugh said. (The Washington Times)