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1. Delirious with or as if with strong drink; intoxicated.
2. Habitually drunk.
3. Of, involving, or occurring during intoxication: a drunken brawl. See Usage Note at drunk.
4. Cooked with wine or another alcoholic beverage: drunken mushrooms.

drunk′en·ly adv.
drunk′en·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




all mops and brooms Intoxicated; half-drunk. In use since the early 19th century, the phrase is of uncertain origin. One conjecture is that the mop of the expression derives from that word’s use in some districts of England for the annual fairs at which servants were hired, and at which much drinking was done. Women seeking employment as maids reputedly carried mops and brooms to indicate the type of work sought. Thomas Hardy’s use of the expression in Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) makes its meaning clear:

There is not much doing now, being New Year’s Eve, and folks mops and brooms from what’s inside ‘em.

barfly A hanger-on at a bar; an alcoholic or heavy drinker; a barhopper. This U.S. slang phrase was in print as early as 1928.

Andy Jackson, Kit Carson and General Grant—all good American barflies in their day. (B. de Casseres, American Mercury, August, 1928)

This early use of barfly implies a goodnatured backslapping attitude, without the stigma attached to heavy drinking. Today, calling someone a barfly is an insult; the label is often used judgmentally to describe a woman who flits from one bar to another.

drink like a fish To drink excessively, particularly alcoholic beverages; to drink hard. The allusion is to the way many fish swim with their mouths open, thus seeming to be drinking continuously. This popular simile, dating from at least 1640, is usually used to describe a drinker with an extraordinary capacity to put away liquor.

drunk as a fiddler Highly intoxicated, inebriated; three sheets to the wind. In the past, fiddlers received free drinks as payment for their services. Thus, their predictable and notorious overindulging gave rise to this popular expression.

drunk as a lord Intoxicated, soused, blind or dead drunk, pickled. In the 18th and 19th centuries, not only was gross intoxication prevalent, but men prided themselves on the amount they could consume at one sitting. It was considered a sign of gentility to overindulge. Thus, it was not an uncommon sight to behold dinner guests helplessly sprawled under the table in front of their chairs, having successfully drunk each other “under the table.”

feel as if a cat has kittened in one’s mouth To have an extremely distasteful sensation in the mouth as a result of drunkenness; the morning-after blues. This expression, one of the more graphic and picturesque, is used to describe the taste in one’s mouth that often accompanies a hangover. It is first cited in the 1618 play Amends for Ladies by Nathaniel Field, a British playwright.

fishy about the gills Suffering the aftereffects of excessive drinking; hung over. In this expression, gills carries its figurative meaning of the skin beneath the jaws and ears, a place where the symptoms of crapulence are often manifested. The phrases blue around the gills and green around the gills carry similar meanings, often extended to include the deleterious consequences of gross overeating.

full as a tick Extremely drunk, loaded, smashed; also full as an egg or bull. A tick is a bloodsucking parasite that attaches itself to the skin of men and certain animals. It buries its head in the flesh and gradually becomes more and more bloated as it fills up with blood. This Australian and New Zealand slang expression dates from the late 19th century.

half-cocked Partially drunk; tipsy. This American colloquialism, often shortened to merely cocked, is of unknown origin, though it may have some relationship to half-cocked ‘foolish, silly.’

See go off at half-cock, IMPETUOUSNESS.

half seas over Thoroughly drunk, intoxicated; having had a few too many, a mite tipsy. Authorities agree that the term’s origin is nautical, but they have widely divergent explanations of its meaning. Those who say the expression means ‘half-drunk’ move from its early literal meaning of ‘halfway across the sea’ to the later figurative ‘halfway to any destination’ or ‘halfway between one state and another.’ Others see in it the image of a ship nearly on its side, about to founder and sink; hence, they consider the term descriptive of one decidedly unsteady due to drink, lurching and staggering, barely able to maintain his balance and likely to fall at any minute.

have a jag on To be drunk, to be inebriated or intoxicated, to be loaded. This U.S. slang expression apparently derives from the dialectal and U.S. sense of jag ‘a load, as of hay or wood, a small cartload.’ By extension, jag came to mean a “load” of drink, or as much liquor as a person can carry.

Others with the most picturesque “jags” on, hardly able to keep their feet. (The Voice [N.Y.], August, 1892)

have a package on Drunk; loaded; having really tied one on. More common in Britain than in the U.S., this expression may have arisen as a variation of tie a bag on.

have the sun in one’s eyes To be intoxicated or drunk, to be under the influence; also the slang phrase to have been in the sun. The expression may be a euphemistic explanation of the unsteady walk of one who has had a few too many, implying that his stagger is due to sun blindness. Another possibility is that the phrase refers to the red color one’s complexion acquires or the bloodshot eyes resulting from too much sun as well as from too much drink. The expression dates from at least 1770.

Last night he had had “the sun very strong in his eyes.” (Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop, 1840)

in bed with one’s boots on Drunk, extremely intoxicated; passed out. The reference is, of course, to one so inebriated that he cannot take his boots off before going to bed.

in one’s cups Intoxicated, inebriated. This expression has been common since the 18th century. Because of its literary and euphemistic tone, it is now often employed jocularly. Jeremy Bentham used the phrase in an 1828 letter to Sir F. Burdett:

I hear you are got among the Tories, and that you said once you were one of them: you must have been in your cups.

An early variant, now obsolete, is cupped.

Sunday at Mr. Maior’s much cheer and wine,
Where as the hall did in the parlour dine;
At night with one that had been shrieve I sup’d,
Well entertain’d I was, and half well cup’d.
(John Taylor, Works, approx. 1650)

in the altitudes Light-headed; giddy; drunk. In the altitudes, as opposed to having both feet planted on the ground, is one of many similar expressions meaning drunk. Attributed to the British dramatist and poet Ben Jonson, it is clearly analogous to contemporary expressions such as high, spacey, flying, and in the ozone.

in the bag Drunk; often half in the bag. This may be a shortened version of the now infrequently heard tie a bag on, which may itself be related to bag as nautical slang for ‘pot of beer.’ The precise origin is unknown.

jug-bitten Intoxicated. This obsolete expression is derived from the figurative sense of the liquid contents of a jug.

When any of them are wounded, potshot, jug-bitten, or cup shaken, … they have lost all reasonable faculties of the mind. (John Taylor, Works, 1630)

like an owl in an ivy bush See VISAGE.

loaded for bear See READINESS.

one over the eight Slightly drunk, tipsy; one alcoholic drink or glass too many. One could infer from this British colloquial expression that a person should be able to drink eight pints or glasses of beer without appearing drunk or out of control. One over the eight appeared in print by 1925.

on the sauce Drinking heavily and frequently, boozing it up, hitting the bottle; alcoholic, addicted to alcoholic beverages; also to hit the sauce ‘to drink excessively.’ Sauce has been a slang term for hard liquor since at least the 1940s.

He was already as a kid (like General Grant as a boy) on the sauce in a charming school-boy way. (S. Longstreet, The Real Jazz Old and New, 1956)

pie-eyed Drunk, intoxicated, inebriated, loaded.

He is partial to a “shot of gin,” and on occasion will drink till he is “pie-eyed.” (7!. P. ‘s and Cassell’s Weekly, September, 1924)

The origin of this term is confusing, since drunkenness tends to cause the eyes to narrow, just the opposite of what pie-eyed implies.

put to bed with a shovel To be extremely drunk, dead drunk; to bury a corpse. The more common, former sense of the phrase refers to an extraordinarily intoxicated person who requires much assistance in getting home to bed. The latter, less figurative meaning, from which the former probably derives, is an obvious allusion to burial of a corpse. The expression is rarely used.

queer in the attic See ECCENTRICITY.

shoot the cat See ILL HEALTH.

three sheets in the wind Very unsteady on one’s feet due to excessive indulgence in drink; barely able to stand or walk without weaving and lurching and swaying about. Though three sheets to the wind is more commonly heard today, three sheets in the wind is the more accurate term. This expression for drunkenness is another creation of some metaphorically minded sailor—in the wind being the nautical term describing the lines or ‘sheets’ when unattached to the clew of the sails, thus allowing them to flap without restraint. Older ships often had three sails, and if the sheets of all three were “in the wind,” the ship would lurch about uncontrollably. The currency of three sheets to the wind may be due to the erroneous belief that the sheets are the sails, rather than the lines that control them. This expression has been used figuratively to mean drunkenness since the early 19th century.

tie one on To go on a drunken tear; to get drunk. This very common American slang expression is probably an elliptical variation of to tie a bag on, which in turn could have spawned the phrase in the bag, all of which have the same meaning. It is uncertain whether they are related to the supposed nautical slang use of bag ‘pot of beer.’

under the table Drunk, intoxicated to the point of stupefaction; not only too drunk to stand, but too drunk to maintain a sitting position. The expression derives from the days when excessive consumption of liquor was the mark of a gentleman. In subtle oneupmanship the lords would vie in “drinking each other under the table.”

under the weather See ILL HEALTH.

up to the gills Drunk, intoxicated; really soused, pickled. When used in reference to human beings, gills refers to the flesh under the jaws and ears. So one who has consumed liquor “up to the gills” has imbibed a considerable quantity.

walk the chalk See COMPETENCE.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.drunkenness - a temporary state resulting from excessive consumption of alcohol
temporary state - a state that continues for a limited time
grogginess - a dazed and staggering state caused by alcohol
sottishness - stupefaction from drink
soberness, sobriety - the state of being sober and not intoxicated by alcohol
2.drunkenness - habitual intoxicationdrunkenness - habitual intoxication; prolonged and excessive intake of alcoholic drinks leading to a breakdown in health and an addiction to alcohol such that abrupt deprivation leads to severe withdrawal symptoms
drug addiction, white plague - an addiction to a drug (especially a narcotic drug)
3.drunkenness - the act of drinking alcoholic beverages to excessdrunkenness - the act of drinking alcoholic beverages to excess; "drink was his downfall"
intemperateness, intemperance - consumption of alcoholic drinks
drinking bout - a long period of drinking
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun intoxication, alcoholism, intemperance, inebriation, dipsomania, tipsiness, insobriety, bibulousness, sottishness Even in his drunkenness, he recognized her.
"Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise" [Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote]
"What does drunkenness not accomplish? It unlocks secrets, confirms our hopes, urges the indolent into battle, lifts the burden from anxious minds, teaches new arts" [Horace Epistles]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The condition of being intoxicated with alcoholic liquor:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


[ˈdrʌŋkənnɪs] N (= state) → borrachera f, embriaguez f (more frm); (= habit, problem) → alcoholismo m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈdrʌŋkənnɪs] n (= state) → ivresse f (= habit) → ivrognerie f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


n (= state)Betrunkenheit f; (= habit, problem)Trunksucht f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈdrʌŋknnɪs] n (state) → ubriachezza, ebbrezza; (habit, problem) → abuso di alcolici
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(draŋk) verb
see drink.
overcome by having too much alcohol. A drunk man fell off the bus; drunk with success.
a drunk person, especially one who is often drunk.
ˈdrunkard (-kəd) noun
a person who is often drunk. I'm afraid he's turning into a drunkard.
ˈdrunken adjective
1. drunk. drunken soldiers.
2. caused by being drunk. a drunken sleep.
drunken ˈdriving noun
(also drunk driving) driving under the influence of alcohol.
ˈdrunkenness noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


n. borrachera, embriaguez.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012