Eskimos have over 180 words for snow, and English speakers have approximately nine million ways to say we’ve had a bit too much of the booze, a dribble too much of the draught, a small drop too much of the sauce… you get the idea.
Here are some fun boozy idioms, and their origins, if anyone remembers them.
Schnookered, Schockered, Snookered. Out of the three in this category, I’ve always preferred the “snookered” variation to describe extreme drunkenness, but that’s apparently not proper usage, as “snooker” is actually a British billiards game. Whoops.
Crunk. Today, popular usage has assumed that crunk is a portmanteau of “crazy drunk,” but according to the Internet, the word “crunk” as something other than a slang past participle of “to crank” first appeared in 1972, in the Dr. Seuss book Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!
Three sheets to the wind. Thank sailors and fishermen, who used “sheets” (or rope) to control the edges of huge canvas sails and thus, the direction of their ships. If a sheet (rope) came loose from its tiedown, that wasn’t ideal, but if two or three sheets came loose at once, then chaos would ensue. Word Detective says,
If two sheets are loose and fluttering in the wind (or “to the wind”), you’re in major trouble, and “three sheets in the wind” means the ship is uncontrollable, reeling like a drunken sailor. Thus “three sheets to the wind” was the perfect metaphor for, at first, a sailor who had celebrated a bit too much on shore leave, and eventually anyone who was too drunk to walk steadily.
Plastered. Etymology involving construction materials is pretty rare, and leaving aside the possibility of a worker falling and drowning in a mixing vat of plaster, the usage of “plastered” as a synonym for “very drunk” might actually have its roots in hunting. Specifically, to “plaster” something in hunting meant to accidentally destroy it. For example, if you “plastered” a bird, you might have accidentally loaded your shotgun with buckshot. Word Detective adds that the first appearance of plastered as a synonym for very drunk appeared in print in 1902, though WD doesn’t specify where.
Sauced. The old English word for both “to plunge into water” and “to brine or pickle” is “sous,” or “soused,” which commonly contained alcohol. An unproven but fascinating theory holds that “sauced” in relation to drunkenness was most often used to describe when women in the home became accidentally intoxicated as a result of cooking with too much spirits.
Or, we could just go with Urbandictionary’s definition: Sauced: to be so drunk all you can think about is how drunk you are.
What liquorous idioms do you use to describe the drink? Leave it in the comments, if you can. (TGIF!)