This is a famous quote from Heart of a Dog (Собачье сердце)

Если я, входя в уборную, начну, извините за выражение, мочиться мимо унитаза и то же самое будут делать Зина и Дарья Петровна, в уборной начнется разруха.

(translation by Avril Pyman) If, when I go to the lavatory, I, if you'll forgive the expression, begin to piss and miss the bowl, and Zina and Darya Petrovna do the same, then we get Disruption in the lavatory.

Why does the speaker make an excuse for using the word мочиться? That could be reasonable if he used a slang synonym like ссать but мочиться seems just regular.

Is that a vulgar or otherwise indecent word? Why does the make an excuse?

  • 6
    мочиться мимо унитаза - he is apologizing for mentioning the very act itself.
    – shabunc
    Jan 14, 2016 at 18:31

4 Answers 4


This is not indecent word. This is indecent theme (topic).
Therefore the speaker made an excuse.


Preobrazhensky's middle-class manners compelled him to excuse himself for mentioning the subject itself, especially in front of ladies. Мочиться is perfectly neutral.

The English translator's word choice is odd; that trite little rhyme with "miss" is even odder. Did they think it was clever?

  • Actually MISS THE BOWL is the only way I can think of saying this, except for maybe PISS OUTSIDE THE BOWL, which sounds intentional. I think it's a fluke that PISS happens to rhyme with MISS. Cute though, no?
    – CocoPop
    Jan 15, 2016 at 3:42
  • 6
    The correct translation would be "to urinate". Professor Preobrazhensky uses the most neutral word. Besides, the hypothetical "he" pisses outside the bowl intentionally.
    – user31264
    Jan 15, 2016 at 4:42
  • Would "past the bowl" be okay?
    – sharptooth
    Jan 15, 2016 at 6:46
  • 2
    @CocoPop in the text it's obvious that мочиться мимо унитаза is either intentional or the person urinating does not care about the outcome. Unintentional would be промахиваться мимо
    – alamar
    Jan 21, 2016 at 8:16
  • 1
    @user31264 is correct, the translation should be "to urinate". Avril Pyman by choosing the wrong word has raised the level of vulgarity considerably.
    – David42
    Sep 7, 2016 at 16:07

It is not that piss is a medical term. But at the same time, the doctor will suggest the patient to "помочиться". If you appeal to your child, you say "пописать". At the same time, the sculpture in Brussels called "Писающий мальчик". Not "Мочащийся мальчик".

  • I suppose that reflects, more than anything, the Flemish Manneken Pis. Jan 15, 2016 at 19:17

Мочиться is a verb which means 'to take a leak'. Its not derogatory or indecent in any way. Мочить means 'to wet' or 'to make wet' but can also be used to mean other, unrelated things.

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