"take the Michael?"

Dulcinea del Toboso   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 18:58 GMT
While reading the BBC web site I saw this phrase: "no-one's going to take the Michael because it's too easy to be shown the door."

What is "taking the Michael"?
Damian   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 19:10 GMT
The proper expression is "taking the mickey". It is used a lot in the UK. It means to tease. More crudely, to take the piss out of someone....to tease them, not in a malicious way.

Mickey is a variant of the name Michael, as is Mick. So just as a variation of saying "taking the mickey" some people say "taking the Michael", meaning to tease. They can also change the "taking" bit to "extracting", so "extracting the Michael" means exactly the same thing.

If you suspect someone of teasing you or having you on, you simply say "Are you taking the mickey?" or "Are you taking the Michael?" or "Are you extracting the Michael?"
Margaret   Wednesday, September 08, 2004, 12:14 GMT
It is an example of the quick turnover of Cockney slang.

Partridge's "Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" dates this expression to c. 1950, and gives its origin as rhyming slang ("Mickey Bliss"). Mickey Bliss, thought to be BBC radio personality, has never been conclusively identified. A competing theory is that "taking the mick" was derived from the verb, "micturate" (to urinate).

From 'taking the piss' to 'taking the mick' to 'extracting the Michael' shows that the impetus is to obscure rather than explain, so that the hearer always has to work harder to get the meaning. But it is a game of invention between friends as much as a way of excluding outsiders. Once 'extracting the Michael' has become too commonplace within the group, for example, one might go for something like, 'Are you attempting to remove the Michaelangelo, sunshine?' (This last is not a real idiom – yet.)