Sunday, 9 October 2011

A Round of Drinks

Being partial to a drink now and again, I overhear some unusual slang terms when ordering at the bar. This is particularly true when travelling around the British Isles, closer to home they are more familiar and mostly ignored. Words such as bevy, tipple, wallop, grog, etc., are known to all and require no explanation.

However it was when I picked up my Dictionary of Historical Slang I discovered just how many slang terms there are in the English language for the demon drink, for those who enjoy same, and everything related to it.

A is for ANOTHER ACROBAT meaning 'another drink'. Tumbler being another word for an acrobat and also a glass.

B is for BLACK POT meaning 'a toper' (one who enjoys his drink a little too much). A black pot was a beer mug in the days when bottles and tankards were made of leather and sealed with tar.

C is for CANTEEN MEDAL, describing a military man who wore a beer stain on his tunic. A persistent drunkard (today we would say 'alcoholic') was similarly described as a Canteen Wallah.

D is for DEADY meaning 'gin' and thought to have originated from a proprietary name of a distiller.

E is for ELBOW-CROOKER, a nineteenth century term for a heavy drinker and for obvious reasons.

F is for both FELLOW-COMMONER an 'empty bottle' and FIDDLER'S BITCH one who is 'very drunk'. While we know what they mean, where the come from is a mystery.

G is for GASP meaning to 'drink a dram of spirits', presumably from its possible effect.

H is for HEAVY BROWN, describing porter. The first beer aged at the brewery and despatched to the inns ready to drink, it was a kind of stout.

I is for INDENTURED, meaning 'to stagger under the influence of drink'.

J is for JACK SURPASS, rhyming slang for 'a glass (of liquor)'.

K is for KILL-PRIEST, a slang term for port wine.

L is for LUSHING-KEN, a very run down and dirty public house.

M is for MOPPY, another word for 'intoxicated'.

N is for NANCY DAWSON, a naval term for the rum ration.

O is for O-BE-JOYFUL, a public house.

P is for PAINT, to drink something very strong.

Q is for QUANTUM, a late nineteenth century term for an ale.

R is for RUSH-LIGHT, any strong liquor, from the late eighteenth century.

S is for SCREECH, a nineteenth century word for potent whisky.

T is for TAPE, a general term for strong liquor but most often referring to gin.

U is for UNPAVED, to be aggressive under the influence of drink.

V is for VARNISH, a late nineteenth century term used specifically for bad champagne.

W is for WET QUAKER, a man who on the surface is most pious but in secret is a heavy drinker.

X is for .... well I couldn't find one, so I thought I'd make one up. If xenophobia is the irrational fear of foreigners and oenophobia is a fear of wines, then could XENOENOPHOBIA be the irrational fear of foreign wines?

Y is for YADNAB, which should really be ydnarb because it is supposed to be brandy backwards.

Z is for .... again I couldn't find one so I've cheated and gone for ZIBIB, a colourless drink distilled from raisins.


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