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This is a comment made from a discussion on homeless people:

There are those who have pissed on the help, love and concern of any family they once knew.

What's the meaning of piss on in this comment? Is this a figurative use? I couldn't find an entry as a phrasal verb in the dictionaries.

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    Yes, it is figurative: to abuse, deliberately and contemptuously. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 15 '13 at 19:28
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    NOAD lists it as piss on show complete contempt for. – J.R. Jun 15 '13 at 19:43
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piss on: to degrade or denigrate someone or something..

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That turn of phrase certainly is figurative. To me, "pissed on" is one of the most vivid idioms in the English language. Picture it in your mind. The family and former friends are desperate to help the man escape a wretched life. They surround him, hands outreached, trying to help. In response, the man whips out his penis and urinates on them. Then he walks away. Can you see it?

We hear and say "pissed-off" all the time. That just means mad. "Pissed-off" doesn't offer a mental picture like "pissed on" does. Despite the mental image image I'm trying to convey, the idiom isn't particularly vulgar. It's strong and vivid language though, it's not something most people would say every day. It's kind of reserved to describe the worst kind of rejection, dismissal and contempt.

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A more polite usage with a similar meaning is spit on. That is to assign a low value to something.

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