Thursday 27 January 2011

Sir Richard Has Taken Off His Considering Cap

Benjamin Franklin was far more fun than you might think. Not only did he write a learned tract called Fart Proudly, he also produced, in his memoirs, a Drinker's Dictionary which contains over two hundred synonyms for being drunk. I have put my favourites in bold.

He's addled, in his airs, affected, casting up his accounts, biggy, bewitched, black and black, bowzed, boozy, been at Barbadoes, been watering the brook, drunk as a wheelbarrow, bothered, burdocked, bosky, busky, buzzy, has sold a march in the brewer, has a head full of bees, has been in the bibing plot, has drunk more than he has bled, is bungy, has been playing beggar-my-neighbour*, drunk as a beggar, sees the beams, has kissed black Betty**, has had a thump over the head with Samson's jaw-bone, has been at war with his brains, is bridgy, has been catching the cat, is cogniaid, capable, cramped, cherubimical, cherry merry, wamble croft, cracked, half way to Concord, canonized, has taken a chirping glass, got corns in his head, got a cup too much, coguay, cupsy, has heated his copper, is in crocus, catched, cuts capers, has been in the cellar, been in the sun, is in his cups, above the clouds, is non compos, cocked, curved, cut, chippered, chickenny, has loaded his cart, been too free with the creature. Sir Richard has taken off his considering cap, he's chopfallen, candid, disguised, got a dish, has killed a dog, has taken his drops. 'Tis a dark day with him. He's a dead man, has dipped his bill, sees double, is disfigured, has seen the devil, is prince Eugene, has entered, buttered both eyes, is cock-eyed, has got the pole evil, has got a brass eye, has made an example, has ate a toad and a half for breakfast, is in his element, is fishy, foxed, fuddled, soon fuddled, frozen, will have frogs for supper, is well in front, is getting forward in the world, owes no man money, fears no man, is crump fooled, has been to France, is flushed, has frozen his mouth, is fettered, has been to a funeral, has his flag out, is fuzzled, has spoken with his friend, been at an Indian feast, is glad, grabable, great-headed, glazed, generous, has boozed the gage, is as dizzy as a goose, has been before George, got the gout, got a kick in the guts, been at Geneva, is globular, has got the glanders, is on the go, a gone man, has been to see Robin Goodfellow, is half and half, half seas over, hardy, top heavy, has got by the head, makes head way, is hiddey, has got on his little hat, is hammerish, loose in the hilt, knows not the way home, is haunted by evil spirits, has taken Hippocrates grand Elixir, is intoxicated, jolly, jagged, jambled, jocular, juicy, going to Jericho, an indirect man, going to Jamaica, going to Jerusalem, is a king, clips the King's English, has seen the French king. The King is his cousin, has got kibed heels, has got knapt, his kettle's hot. He'll soon keel upward, he's in his liquor, lordly, light, lappy, limber, lopsided, makes indentures with his legs, is well to live, sees two moons, is merry, middling, muddled, moon-eyed, maudlin, mountainous, muddy, mellow, has seen a flock of moons, has raised his monuments, has eaten cacao nuts, is nimtopsical, has got the night mare, has been nonsuited, is super nonsensical, in a state of nature, nonplussed, oiled, has ate opium, has smelt an onion, is an oxycrocum***, is overset, overcome, out of sorts, on the paymaster's books, drank his last halfpenny, is as good conditioned as a puppy, is pigeon eyed, pungy, priddy, pushing on, has salt in his headban, has been among the Philistines, is in prosperity, is friends with Philip, contending with Pharaoh, has painted his nose, wasted his punch, learned politeness, eat the pudding-bag, eat too much pumpkin, is full of piety, is rocky, raddled, rich, religious, ragged, raised, has lost his rudder, has been to far with Sir Richard, is like a rat in trouble, is stitched, seafaring, in the suds, strong, as drunk as David's sow, swamped, his skin is full, steady, stiff, burnt his shoulder, has got out his top-gallant sails, seen the dog-star, is stiff as a ringbolt. The shoe pinches him. He's staggerish. It is star light with him. He carries too much sail, will soon out studding sails, is stewed, stubbed, soaked, soft, has made too free with Sir John Strawberry, right before the wind, all sails out, has pawned his senses, plays parrot, has made shift of his shirt, shines like a blanket, has been paying for a sign, is toped, tongue-tied, tanned, tipsicum grave, double tongued, tospey turvey, tipsy, thawed, trammulled, transported, has swallowed a tavern token, makes Virginia fame, has got the Indian vapours, is pot valiant, in love with varany, wise, has a wet soul, has been to the salt water, in search of eye water, is in the way to be weaned, out of the way, water soaked, wise or otherwise, can walk the line, The wind is west with him. He carries the wagon.

That last phrase can't have anything to do with being on the wagon, which only popped up in the twentieth century. I think that from now on, when I arrive in the pub, I shall buy a beer and announce: "Sir Richard has taken off his considering cap."

The Inky Fool enjoys a quiet night in

*Note spelling.
**A whiskey bottle
***A medicinal plaster made from saffron, vinegar, and various other ingredients (OED)


  1. I'm slightly confused by "can walk the line". Does this have anything to do with Johnny Cash? And surely, if you are drunk, you *can't* walk in a straight line?

    I really like "has a wet soul", by the way...but there are lots of gems in here.

    1. Tis perceptibly safe to connote that Johnny Cash ne'er met Benjamin Franklin; thus the phrase "can walk the line" has nothing to do w/ Mr. Cash.

  2. I was wondering if "a wet soul" had anything to do with the fragment of Heraclitus that says "A dry soul is best", but it seemed a leap too far.

    I'm even less sure about Walk The Line.

  3. The Antipodean, wondering how vinomadefied was missed,31 January 2011 at 12:37

    Next time I have a party I'll be inviting people to be amorous, clamorous, uproarious and glorious.

    This list has taken me a few days to digest. Royalty and sailing appear regularly, and Sir Richard twice: is he like Black Betty?

    I'm thinking of adopting 'been too free with the creature' in all its lovely ambiguity, but I'm wondering about the origins of cogniaid, coguay and hiddey. Any thoughts?

    PS I *knew* there was a reason I didn't like pumpkin.