The grammar-school names Peset, Pesverket and Pesaverket

By Lennart Hagåsen

In: Ortnamnssällskapets i Uppsala årsskrift 2018


In each of the three Swedish towns Hudiksvall, Jönköping and Skara, there is a school that is, or used to be, known by the byname Peset, Pesverket or Pesaver­ket. In two of these towns, both Peset and Pes(a)verket can be documented, in the third only Pesaverket. Before the educational reforms of the 1960s, schools of this kind, which offered a more advanced academic curriculum, were known as läroverk (läro- ‘teaching’, verk ‘institution’), a term often translated as ‘grammar school’. The element Pes(a)can be traced to the dialectal word pes(e), the most wide­spread meaning of which is ‘penis (especially of a bull)’, but which also occurs in many other (generally condescending) senses, of which ‘slip of a lad’ and ‘schoolboy’ are common. In all three of the towns mentioned, pes(e) has been re­corded as a nickname for grammar-school pupils. Pes(a)verket is a jocular combination of pes(e) and the final element verk of the word läroverk, and Peset is to be regarded as an elliptical form of this by­name. The author does not rule out the possibility, however, of another quite widespread dialectal word having inspired the byname Pes(a)verket, namely the similar pissverk ‘external sexual organ(s), urinary organ(s), urinary tract’, formed from piss ‘urine’ and verk, here chiefly in the sense of ‘contrivance, mechanism’.