drinking idioms

Drinking Idioms: Drink your way around Europe!

If you ever fancy a few drinks in Europe, these drinking idioms will come in handy

Europeans definitely enjoy a drink or two, and they certainly have the vocabulary to talk about it! In the list below we have a number of drinking idioms which you can use on your next night out.

English

Three sheets to the wind

Given they’re known as a pretty rowdy bunch, it’s no surprise that the English have a million ways to say ‘drunk’. In fact, you could use any word and add an -ed and it’ll probably sound legit. Some of the most common examples of this include: plastered, hammered, spannered, smashed and (the more American phrase) wasted.

These adjectives are pretty well known across English learners, however the phrase ‘3 sheets to the wind’ is more of a mystery to anyone outside of the UK. The origin of this phrase is quite funny, and can be credited to sailors from the 19th century. These sailors used a scale of 1 to 3 ‘sheets to the wind’ to measure one’s drunkness. As phrases.org explains “If three sheets are loose and blowing about in the wind then the sails will flap and the boat will lurch about like a drunken sailor.”

drinking idioms

Russian

Pod hmelkom (под хмельком)

After a few Russian vodkas, you’re bound to feel a bit tipsy or rather ‘under the fog’ as Russians like to say.

Spanish

Soy un abrazafarolas

Spaniards have several ways of explaining how drunk you are. After all, they do export some of the best beer and sparkling wine in the world! Some great ones include:

  • Voy ciego – I’m going blind
  • Voy bien cocido – lit. I’m going well cooked
  • Me voy a beber hasta el agua de los floreros – I’m even going to drink the water in the vases

But our favourite has to be ‘ser un abrazafarolas’ – this literally means to be ‘a streetlight hugger’. We’ve all been there, after a few too many drinks with your friends you need some support now and then as you stumble down the street.

French

Avoir la gueule de bois

Ever wake up with a completely dry mouth after a night of heavy driving? The French have the perfect word to describe this – Avoir la gueule de bois – literally, a guele de bois is a “wooden mouth”. 

drinking idioms

German

Lass uns einen haben

drinking idioms

After a long day, you might turn to your colleague and say “lass uns einen haben”. Literally, you’re saying ‘let’s lift one together’. We can’t help but think this drinking idioms kinda sweet.

Italian

Bere come una spugna

Similar to the Germans, Italian “alzare il gomito” or literally, ‘raise an elbow’.

If an Italian wants to talk about someone who drinks a lot, they’ll say someone ‘beva come una spugna”. In English, they drink like a sponge.

Bonus round

Have you ever been as drunk as…

Girtas kaip tapkė – Drunk as a slipper (Lithuanian)

пиян на мотика (piyan na motika) – Drunk as a garden hoe (Bulgarian)

Bêbado como um gambá – Drunk as a skunk (Portuguese)

Kännissä kuin käki – Drunk as a cuckoo (Finnish)

Time to plan your next night out in Europe and try your new vocab out! Here are some of the best places to party.

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