7

I wonder what's the difference between these two verbs given that the dictionaries translate it the same way?

6

Piss would be considered more vulgar, pee would be considered more mild and informal.

It's common to ask a young child, "Do you need to go pee?" I wouldn't ask a young child, "Do you need to take a piss?"

The words also have differences in how they are used, as those questions show. You can go pee, and you can take a piss. (Other variants may apply, with differences in how standard they might be. I wouldn't say that take a pee or go piss are unacceptable, but they don't seem as common.)

Piss can also be used a slang verb. To get pissed is to get very angry. (For example: Joe was pissed about his traffic ticket.)

  • 3
    In British English, pissed can mean 'drunk' (Macmillan Dictionary). – snailboat Dec 17 '15 at 10:46
  • @snailboat - Maybe I should have put a disclaimer in my answer, but I'm not suggesting my answer is comprehensive. (I also didn't delve into the exclamation "Piss off!" for example.) – J.R. Dec 17 '15 at 10:50
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    @MaulikV I think what J.R. said applies pretty well to both the noun and verb uses. In any case, to be precise: they're verbs following go (in the quasi-serial verb construction). Take a piss is a light verb construction in which the actual verb is take, but the noun piss carries the actual meaning. It corresponds to the heavy verb piss. (Learners probably don't need to worry about these distinctions.) – snailboat Dec 17 '15 at 11:37
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    Let me rephrase, then, since it seems I was unclear. I think J.R.'s answer is fine, and we don't need to worry too much about whether individual uses are noun or verb uses in this case. We can make the technical distinction between the two, but it won't change the answer much, so I don't think learners need to worry about it. (If anyone does, they can always ask a separate question about that sort of technical detail.) – snailboat Dec 17 '15 at 11:44
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    @MaulikV - You bring up a good point, one that shows that an O.P. should not be too quick to select an answer. That said, I agree with what snailboat was trying to say – go pee works like a phrasal verb of sorts. Consider: A bear eats in the woods. A bear sleeps in the woods. A bear goes pee in the woods. Same with take a piss; take is not a verb with piss as its object, but "take a piss" functions together as a single verb. Thankfully, "I need to take a piss" is not grammatically the same as "I need to take an aspirin." – J.R. Dec 17 '15 at 15:59
2

In my (American) experience:

"Piss" is a word used by men, and by boys who were raised by men.

"Pee" is a word used by women, by girls, and by boys who were raised by women.

"Urinate" is a word used by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.

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    Don't think gender has anything to do with it. – Insane Dec 18 '15 at 5:41
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    In my American experience, yours is not the only experience and ascribes an overly strict gendered division – eques Apr 13 '18 at 19:49
0

Both terms are informal and considered vulgar slang. Piss is somewhat onomatopoeic and comes from the Old French "pisser" (PIS - ay) meaning to urinate.

"Pee" is just the first letter of "piss" and meant to soften it and make it more polite. This may be a reason some associate the use with children and the female gender.

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