Monday, January 10, 2011

"Drunk as a Skunk (in a Trunk)"

Jonathan "Mr. Slang" Green is the world's authority on slang in the English language.  In fact, he's the editor of a three volume dictionary titled Green's Dictionary of Slang.  Mr. Slang himself writes a quick summary for The Dabbler blog of the various terms that he's discovered for drunkenness and the drunkard.  It turns out this area of lexicography is rife with material: 

"If I do a rough count of the main themes that inform my recently published Green’s Dictionary of Slang, I find – are we surprised – that crime and criminals top the lists with just over five thousand words and phrases. But hard on their heels are drink, drinking and drunks, a solid 4,600. And of these 1200 mean simply drunk. They span the centuries and slang’s inventiveness in this ever-alluring area shows no signs of diminishing."

What you find, is a treasure chest of euphemisms.  Alcohol has had such an imprint on the psyche of the human race that it's no surprise we have come up with an army of terms surrounding it.  In many ways, we owe much of the color in language to our use of the fermentation of the grape and the grain. 

Among my favorites of which I've never heard before: "drunk as a brewer's fart," "going down with barrel fever," and "hit on the head by the tavern bitch."

(hat tip: Sullivan)   

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