By Peter Russell

Yorkshire folk would have us believe they invented the expression "taking the piss."

One theory is that during the age of the canals in Britain, barrels of urine would be transported up the canals to wool mills in Northern England (particularly Yorkshire). Urine was used in the process of fixing the dye to wool. 

This was particularly the case when dyeing items blue with indigo or more traditionally with woad, before synthetic dyes were invented or made commercially available.

Being in the business of transporting urine was much less prestigious and lucrative than carrying wine. Boatmen, when questioned as to what they were carrying, would lie and say "I'm taking wine" and the response would be "No, you're taking the piss" to express disbelief.

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