I'm reading James Joyce's Ulysses, and while there are enough things I don't understand in it I keep crossing the phrase "pike hoses," or "met him pike hoses." Can anyone enlighten me as to the meaning?

For example:

Mr Bloom moved forward, raising his troubled eyes. Think no more about that. After one. Timeball on the ballastoffice is down. Dunsink time. Fascinating little book that is of sir Robert Ball's. Parallax. I never exactly understood. There's a priest. Could ask him. Par it's Greek: parallel, parallax. Met him pike hoses she called it till I told her about the transmigration. O rocks!


Poor fellow! Quite a boy. Terrible. Really terrible. What dreams would he have, not seeing? Life a dream for him. Where is the justice being born that way? All those women and children excursion beanfeast burned and drowned in New York. Holocaust. Karma they call that transmigration for sins you did in a past life the reincarnation met him pike hoses. Dear, dear, dear. Pity, of course: but somehow you can't cotton on to them someway.

  • I don't suppose you could edit your question, and maybe include a longer excerpt where the phrase is used? Or should I just drive down to the local library and check out Ulysses, thumb through it, and try to find a few excerpts myself?
    – J.R.
    Jun 1, 2012 at 18:56
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  • @J.R.: Don't bother, I've got someone to type it up into the internet for you!
    – Hugo
    Jun 1, 2012 at 19:20
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    @Peter: No disrespect, but if you couldn't figure out the meaning from the context, you probably shouldn't be trying to make sense of Ulysses in the first place. Next to the utterly impenetrable Finnegan's Wake, it really is one of the most obscure English "novels" you could have chosen! Jun 1, 2012 at 21:08

2 Answers 2


It's Metempsychosis as spoken by one of the characters, Molly Bloom.

Metempsychosis is a recurring theme in James Joyce's modernist novel Ulysses (1922). In Joycean fashion, the word famously appears, mispronounced by Molly Bloom, as "met him pike hoses."

  • 2
    And here I was picturing a lance that was fitted to spray water.
    – Jay
    Jun 1, 2012 at 19:51
  • Wow! The things you learn reading EL&U
    – Jim
    Jun 2, 2012 at 5:35

Metempsychosis = "transfer of the soul". Joyce spells out himself that this is what "met him pike hoses" means on page 592 of the (cheap) Wordsworth edition. "Unusual polysyllables of foreign languages are interpreted phonetically...".

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