Izzit? – English words for drink and drinking

At bbc.com, Susie Dent writes that the English language has 3000 words for alcohol and drunkenness. Did you know that the word “booze” has been in use for more than 500 years? And “alcohol” for 800?

Dent describes a variety of the words and phrases, giving histories and etymologies for a number of them. Some of the items explored are those for purveyors of liquor; the state of being drunk (“ramsquaddled” or “osfusticated,” anyone?); or of being hungover (“crapulent” or “cropsick”); supposed cures for a hangover (“hair of the dog”); and abstaining from alcohol (“tee-totallism”).

In addition, there are explanations of expressions such “drunk as a lord,” its link to the expletive “bloody,” and how “lampoon” is related to all of this; as well as how “grog” came into the picture (based on the nickname of an eighteenth-century English admiral).

South Africans, never a bunch to shy away from a quart – that’s a South Africanism, by the way – a papsak of wine, or scale of skokiaan, have similarly coloured local English with a multitude of terms for booze, boozing and being hungover. The result: phuza-face after phuza Thursday.

As a synonym for quart (a 750ml bottle of beer), ngudu is beginning to make an appearance in South African English – and, of course, a ngudu of Carling Black Label beer is known as a Zamalek. I’ll explore newer items like these in a post next week (look out for “What is SA bringing to the party?“), but for now here are a few more older examples – from among many! – in the online A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles:

babalaas, beer-drink, Cape smoke, Dom Pedro, dop, dronkie, half-jack, kill-me-quick, ladies’ bar, nadors, phuza, regmaker, shebeen, and sundowner.

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