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In liquor

By day's end, I suspect, some of you will be schnockered, shellacked, or snozzled. And those of you who are abstinent or temperate will have encountered others who are tiddly, tight, or torqued.

This makes New Year's Eve an excellent day to consider Paul Dickson's Intoxerated: The Definitive Drinker's Dictionary (Melville House, 207 pages, $14.95). It is a paperback update of the author's 2009 book Drunk. Additions to the current edition bring the number of synonyms for intoxication to 2,985. Buffing the floor, flapjacked, and the title word intoxerated are among the additions.

It is by no means a casual compilation. It has historic entries: The in drink of the post title is from Benjamin Franklin's "The Drinker's Dictionary." Franklin also recorded pigeon-eyed. Making Virginia fences comes from Thomas Jefferson's era, a New England joke about the zigzag farm fences of the commonwealth. The variations on sheet in the wind derive, he says, from the rope attached to a sail controlling the angle at which it is set; the expression three sheets in the wind appears in Dickens's Dombey and Son. Shellacked dates from the 1920s, appearing in The Sun on Jan. 29, 1929. 

The list is laden with familiar terms: blotto, loaded (with variations), lit, pixilated, soused, spiflicated. There are examples of Cockney/Australian rhyming slang: elephant's trunk for drunk. Recent arrivals are defined: sopsy, for just past sober but not yet tipsy. There are exotics: circling over Shannon in Ireland, deriving from the occasion of which Boris Yeltsin was too drunk to get off his plane, which circled the Shannon airport six times before landing to give him time to sober up. There are twelve pages of bibliography, for the scholarly toper. You can find here tired and emotional, the British publication Private Eye's euphemism to avoid libel suits.

If you are imbibing tonight, I do hope that you end up sap-happy rather than toddy stricken. And do let someone else take the wheel.






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