didn't have a pot to piss in ... really poor

Discussion in 'English Only' started by susanna76, Apr 5, 2010.

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  1. susanna76 Senior Member

    I found this expression, "didn't have a pot to piss in, " in a book. I wonder, what other expressions meaning "really poor" are commonly used in your part of the English-speaking world?

  2. tannen2004 Senior Member

    It might be a bit old fashioned, but I hear it every now and again and use it myself (and I'm not yet 30) - "to not have two sticks to rub together".
  3. Lexiphile Senior Member

    England English
    And curiously, I have heard "hasn't got two beans to rub together"! I suspect this is a mixed metaphor, combining Tannen's sticks with "hasn't got a bean" or something similar.
    I'm surprised that Tannen didn't mention not having "two cents to rub together," since I have heard this used in the USA.
    "Poor as a church mouse" also comes to mind, since it's in common use in the UK.
  4. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    In the USA, "two nickels to rub together". (Though I've heard "pennies" too.)
  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    The longer version of the pot expression is amusing, at least on first hearing:

    "...was so poor she didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of."

    So poor he didn't have two nickles to rub together, as suggested by Packard, is a fairly common one. If you are talking about land, rather than a person, there's:

    So poor it wouldn't even raise a fuss
  6. susanna76 Senior Member

    Thank you all for your posts :).
  7. Lexiphile Senior Member

    England English
    After a long meditation, another expression has occured to me: "he is on his uppers." It refers to the soles of his shoes having worn away, but the expression may be out of date now.
    It's interesting that Packard and Cuchu rub nickles together. I distinctly remember cents and dimes (after further meditation) being used in this context, but never nickles. It may be regional -- in very rich states they probably rub quarters together.
  8. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English

    Farlex shows a regional distinction: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/have+two+pennies+to+rub+together
  9. efparri New Member

    Another expression of obscure origin is "as poor as Job's turkey."
  10. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    One I've always liked, but that you don't hear much any more, is "poor as a churchmouse." It suggests, I think, the pastor of a small church, with barely enough to live on, so the mice living there are REALLY bad off.

    There's also the straightforward "dirt poor."
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