Completely carparked: Study finds 546 words for getting 'drunk' in the English language

Brits getting 'carparked'
Brits getting 'carparked' Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Amber Louise Bryce
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In the English language it seems almost any word can be used to describe having one too many alcoholic drinks. There's a simple rule to remember when sober, just '-ed' according to researchers.


If there's one thing Brits are good at, it's getting totally trolleyed - and expressing it in endlessly creative ways. 

Once the subject of a Michael McIntyre stand-up routine, in which the comedian argued that posh people can use any word to mean drunk in English, two German linguists took it upon themselves to research its truth. 

“We were curious to find out if the synonyms of “drunk” are used in similar contexts,” explained the study's co-author Professor Dr. Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer of Chemnitz University in a press release.

The findings, published in the Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association, found that Brits do indeed use a vast variety of synonyms to describe being drunk - 546, to be exact. 

These so-called 'drunkonyms' range from 'hammered' to 'bladdered' to 'sozzled' to 'steampigged'; proving that any word in the English language can be turned into a descriptive for having downed one too many - with the addition of 'ed' at the end. 

Despite the negative consequences to drinking too much, Brits still love to describe it with humour.
Despite the negative consequences to drinking too much, Brits still love to describe it with humour.Canva

Despite the headache-inducing realities of excessive alcohol consumption and its negative associations, it's most often described by Brits with light-heartedness and humour.

"What I found very interesting is that if you look at these words that are used for being drunk, many of them use indirectness as a resource. Like, 'I was totally gazeboed'. I mean, what's the relation between a gazebo and being drunk? It's at least not immediately obvious," Professor Sanchez-Stockhammer tells Euronews Culture.

"As humans, we can usually find some way of interpreting this. For example, that possibly people would get drunk in gazebos? But I don't know to what extent that is true. To normal listeners, the relation will be unclear. And that's what makes it funny."  

Such indirectness also lends itself to the spirited sensibilities of Cockney rhyming slang, with examples of 'Brahms and Liszt' or 'Scotch mist' being used to describe being pi**ed.

"Probably we shouldn't have said that these are synonyms of 'drunk' but they're actually synonyms of 'pi**ed'," says Professor Sanchez-Stockhammer, explaining that the majority of these 'drunkonyms' are formed according to the same rhythmic pattern.

The researchers also found that there's a tendency for Brits to delete words, with 'blind drunk' and 'nicely drunk' being shortened solely to their prefacers 'blind' and 'nicely', something not so easily done in other languages where you have inflections, Sanchez-Stockhammer notes. 

"In British English, at least, there's quite a lot of emphasis on the fun part. And I think that's why there's such a lot of variation, because you want to come up with something new and creative."

How do other European languages express getting drunk?

Preparing to get 'sozzled'
Preparing to get 'sozzled'Canva

The UK's deep-seated drinking culture paired with Brits' love of wordplay and absurdist humour are strongly linked to the never-ending list of drunken descriptors. But what about other languages across Europe? 

While not as common (or anywhere near as expansive), Professor Sanchez-Stockhammer did find that similar 'drunkonyms' can be found. 

"In French, for example, there's the word bourré, which means that you're filled to the brim, that you're stuffed with something. The idea here is a similar one to various English drunken names as well; this idea of having reached the maximum in filling. And in Spanish, I found machacado [meaning 'crushed']. These are the two that felt most familiar from the ones I saw, like in English where you also have destroyed, hammered, etc... So basically, alcohol doing something to your body."

While researching online for expressions of drunkenness in other languages, the following evocative examples appeared in a Reddit thread. Most are more direct than those in the English language, and in general have a certain poetry that you'll never quite find in a pale-faced Brit telling you how utterly wa**ered they got on the 2-4-1 pitchers in a Wetherspoons last night. 


'Seitinohut'. Translating to something that is 'web or silk thin', it can be used as a descriptor for those early stages of being tipsy, when the effects of alcohol start to settle and the world around you seemingly becomes covered in a "thin veil of euphoria", a Redditor writes. 



'Rund under fötterna'. Meaning 'round underfoot' this phrase refers to feeling unsteady, like you're walking on two wobbly balls after overdoing it on the brännvin. 


'Feuchtfröhlich' means 'merry' but also literally translates to 'moist happy', which speaks for itself really. 

The Netherlands


In the Netherlands, most expressions of drunkenness are introduced with 'zo zat als een', meaning 'as drunk as a'. The examples are endless and all equally bizarre, ranging from a kachel (stove) to a pad (toad) to a kartouw (cart rope) to a straaljager (jetfighter). Essentially, in the Netherlands you can be as drunk as anything you want to be. 


'W trupa', which translates to 'into a dead body' - something we've all felt while hungover especially. 


'Estar como una cuba' or to be 'as drunk as a lord' is pretty self-explanatory although it's not for us to cast aspersions on the high and mighty with titles. Alternatively, you could cause much amusement among Spaniards by describing your drinking exploits as 'estar como una mecedora'. This one translates 'to be like rocking chair', presumably referring to the point at which so much alcohol has been consumed, the room appears to start moving back and forth - or the motion some of us make while impatiently awaiting an order of post-night out junk food.

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