Origin of the saying ‘eyes like pissholes in the snow’

What is the origin of the phrase eyes like pissholes in the snow?



The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2008) says:

eyes like piss-holes in the snow noun deeply sunken or squinting eyes (whether naturally, or as a result of illness, or – most commonly – as a symptom of a hangover) UK, 1970

However, A Dictionary of Catch Phrases (Partridge, Beale, 1985) gives an earlier date:

eyes like piss-holes in the snow (usu. prec. by he has or he’s got). ‘One of the most graphic phrases that is applied to the aspect of someone suffering “the morning after the night before”: he’s got eyes like….’ (Brian W.Aldiss, 1978): since c. 1920.


A possible 1952 snippet is found in the Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin (Volume 18, page 17):

816. Her eyes look like two p–— holes in the snow. (i.e. “eyes have a hollow look”)

It was used in Hilda Manning: A Novel (Allan Seager – 1956 – page 61 – validation):

I saw him the other morning about five-thirty come creeping along through that fog about fifteen miles an hour, eyes like piss holes in the snow, drunker’n nine thousand dollars.


Another variation is “eyes like piss-holes in the sand” and the OED has this from around 1932:

c1932 D. Thomas Let. in Sel. Lett. (1966) 4 My eyes are two piss-holes in the sand.

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