Benjamin Franklin’s Long List of Synonyms for ’Drunk‘

“The Drinkers Dictionary,” published by Franklin in January 1737, features terms like ‘nimptopsical’ and ‘cherubimical’ as synonyms for ‘drunk.’
Culture Club/Getty Images (Franklin), discan/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images (background)

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin gave us many things: the lightning rod, bifocals, a musical instrument named the armonica that happened to be pretty dangerous—and more than 200 synonyms for the word drunk.

The authorship of “The Drinkers Dictionary” is debated, but Franklin published the lengthy list of expressions meaning “inebriated” in the Pennsylvania Gazette in January 1737. “The Phrases in this Dictionary are not (like most of our Terms of Art) borrow’d from Foreign Languages, neither are they collected from the Writings of the Learned in our own, but gather’d wholly from the modern Tavern-Conversation of Tiplers,” Franklin wrote. “I do not doubt but that there are many more in use; and I was even tempted to add a new one my self under the Letter B, to wit, Brutify’d: But upon Consideration, I fear’d being guilty of Injustice to the Brute Creation, if I represented Drunkenness as a beastly Vice, since, ‘tis well-known, that the Brutes are in general a very sober sort of People.”

Here’s an abridged list of terms from “The Drinkers Dictionary” that you might want to use the next time you’re a few sheets to the wind. (The spellings are all as they are in the original, by the way, so sic throughout.)


  • He is Addled
  • He’s casting up his Accounts
  • He’s Afflicted
  • He’s in his Airs


  • He’s Biggy
  • Block and Block
  • Bowz’d
  • Piss’d in the Brook
  • Drunk as a Wheel-Barrow
  • His Head is full of Bees
  • He’s Bungey
  • He sees the Bears


  • He’s Cat
  • Cherubimical
  • Cherry Merry
  • Wamble Crop’d
  • Got Corns in his Head
  • Loaded his Cart
  • He’s been too free with the Creature
  • Sir Richard has taken off his Considering Cap


  • He’s got a Dish
  • Took his Drops
  • It is a Dark Day with him
  • Has Dipp’d his Bill
  • He’s seen the Devil


  • He’s Prince Eugene
  • Wet both Eyes
  • Got the Pole Evil
  • He’s Eat a Toad & half for Breakfast


  • He’s Fishey
  • Owes no Man a Farthing
  • Crump Footed
  • Froze his Mouth
  • Been to a Funeral
  • His Flag is out
  • Fuzl’d


  • Groatable
  • Gold-headed
  • As Dizzy as a Goose
  • Had a Kick in the Guts
  • Globular
  • Got the Glanders


  • Top Heavy
  • Got on his little Hat
  • Hammerish
  • Haunted with Evil Spirits


  • Jagg’d
  • Jambled
  • Juicy


  • Clips the King’s English
  • Got Kib’d Heels
  • Het his Kettle


  • He makes Indentures with his Leggs
  • Lappy
  • Limber


  • He sees two Moons
  • Seen a Flock of Moons
  • Rais’d his Monuments


  • He’s eat the Cocoa Nut
  • Nimptopsical
  • Got the Night Mare


  • He’s Oil’d
  • Smelt of an Onion
  • Oxycrocium


  • Pungey
  • As good conditioned as a Puppy
  • Has scalt his Head Pan
  • In his Prosperity
  • Eat a Pudding Bagg


  • He's Quarrelsome


  • Raddled
  • Lost his Rudder
  • Like a Rat in Trouble


  • In the Sudds
  • Swampt
  • His Skin is full
  • His Shoe pinches him
  • Staggerish
  • It is Star-light with him
  • He carries too much Sail
  • Stubb’d
  • Has Sold his Senses


  • He’s Top’d
  • Tongue-ty’d
  • Double Tongu’d
  • Has Swallow’d a Tavern Token
  • He’s Trammel’d


  • He makes Virginia Fence
  • Valiant


  • The Malt is above the Water
  • He’s been to the Salt Water
  • He’s Water-soaken

A version of this story ran in 2013; it has been updated for 2023.

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