Don’t get capernoited this holiday season


Humans have been indulging in alcoholic concoctions for at least as long as written records exist. We find mentions in folklore and music. Who can forget the wonderful “Drink! Drink! Drink!” scene in Sigmund Romberg’s The Student Prince? Every opera lover is familiar with Verdi’s Libiamo (Let us drink) from La Traviata.
What Scot cannot sing, “Just a Wee Deoch-and-Doris” (“door drink,” or, “one for the road”)?
At this time of year, we get daily reminders about drinking and driving. We’re urged to call Operation Red Nose if we’ve had more than “a wee dram.” Police run CheckStops in case we ignore Operation Red Nose.
Just outside government liquor stores, Salvation Army members set up collection kettles hoping to prick consciences. It works. Watch people leaving those stores. See them put something in the kettle or guiltily avoid the kettle-keeper’s eyes.
But they don’t stop drinking.
With this strong drinking history, it should come as no surprise to discover we also have a very long list of words for drunkenness and drunks.
Many such terms are well-known. Who hasn’t heard of tanked, lit, lubricated, sloshed, bombed, fried, plastered, crocked, blotto, stinko, swacked?
But when I looked up this topic, I found all kinds of words/expressions for drunkenness that I’d never heard before. Here are a few: rum-dum, pifflicated, ossified, piped, flooey, woofled, blithered, comboozilated, foozlified, whipsey, smeekit, schicken.
Many expressions compare the drinker to some innocent animal. So we have goat-drunk, drunk as a skunk, drunk as a boiled owl, drunk as a coot, drunk as a dog, drunk as a pig.
In fact, animals can and do get inebriated. People with fruit trees often see such birds as robins becoming drunk on fermented windfall fruit.
If you visit the Last Chance Saloon in the Ghost Town of Wayne in the Drumheller Valley, you’ll hear of the horse that used to come for a drink and usually stayed to enjoy the generosity of the saloon’s patrons.
Some “drunk” terms come as a surprise. People can be drunk as a fiddler, drunk as a poet, drunk as a lord, drunk as an emperor, drunk as a tinker. I had no idea that fiddlers, poets, lords, emperors and tinkers are infamous for drinking but evidently they are.
Who knew that brooms and wheelbarrows drink? They must, because it seems we can be as drunk as one of these.
Or, we can be three sheets to the wind, tight as a drum, lit or stewed to the gills, on the sauce, under the table, out on the roof, barrel-house drunk, feeling no pain. We can have a glow on, be seeing pink elephants, be wamble-cropped.
Slang and Euphemisms offers 2 3/4 pages of these expressions — 912 different terms for being drunk.
We’ve been coming up with new ways to say drunk ever since this word appeared as an adjective in 1340 and a noun in 1849.
So watch it this festive season! Don’t get arrested for being “drunk as David’s sow.”