How Many Synonyms Are There for Drunk?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsThe English language has thousands of synonyms for “drunk.” Lexicographer, Stuart Flexner, in his book I Hear America Talking, believes that since people get drunk for various reasons, affecting them in different way, the English language has simply developed synonyms to reflect the wide gamut of feelings and reactions. The first to record all the colorful terms for drunkenness was Benjamin Franklin, who included 228 terms in the Drinker’s Dictionary published in 1737. Apparently the colonists were so prone to inebriation, they required their own dictionary to know what they should be called by their spouses and friends. Several other editors and writers created their own expanded lists over the years; however, lexicographer Paul Dickson, bested them all, when he set the Guinness Book of World Records for most synonyms for a word in 1983, listing 2,660 terms for drunkenness. Later in 2009, he published Drunk: the Definitive Drinker’s Dictionary in 2006, listing a staggering (pun intended) 2,964 synonyms for drunk. Word lovers throughout the world — even the priggish editors of the OED — celebrated by getting bombed, loaded, trashed, hammered, soused, buzzed, blottered, marinated, liquefied, wasted, smashed … You get the point.

In 2002, the BBC One’s Booze program asked its audience to submit euphemisms for “drunk.” They headed to their local pubs, got sufficiently sloshed, and then contributed more than 141 euphemisms for drunk. For example, here are their synonyms for “drunk” beginning with the letter B: badgered, banjaxed, battered, befuggered, bernard langered, bladdered, blasted, blathered, bleezin, blitzed, blootered, blottoed, bluttered, boogaloo, brahms & liszt, buckled, and burlin.

To that list, perhaps they should add “blue-eyed.” Seems that in 2017, researchers at the University of Vermont discovered this sobering fact: people with light-colored eyes (specifically, blue, green or gray) are more likely than those with dark eyes to have high rates of alcohol dependence. However, their study indicated that this relationship was correlational, not causal. That is to say, the researchers found a statistically significant interaction between the genes that determine eye color and genes associated with alcohol dependence — certainly a great topic for conversation among a group of inebriated folks hanging out at a bar.

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Read related posts: The Colorful Language of Roadside Diners
Colorful Victorian Slang
Words That Sound Naughty But Are Not

For further reading: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1883481.stm
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/blue-eyes-alcoholic-light-colored-eyes_n_7705806.html
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170130-english-has-3000-words-for-being-drunk


One response to “How Many Synonyms Are There for Drunk?

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