Finding America

Me and Tarah

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The British are very good at two things: 1) getting incredibly drunk and 2) coming up with words to describe the act of getting incredibly drunk. Whether you're in the north or the south, a trip down to your local pub will provide all the evidence you need that British slang is alive and well within the drinking person's vernacular. Below are 5 wonderful British slang words for drunk.

It doesn't take a sober person to note that the root word of "wankered" is wank - a word that, as both a verb and a noun, means masturbate. Interesting, then, that the extended form wankered means inebriated - a state that typically renders 50% of the human race incapable of performing the aforementioned act.

The word arsehole, like the word wanker, describes a stupid, contemptible person. Could it be, then, that the British like to equate drinking with idiotic behavio(u)r? If so, the people who coined the phrase arse-holed must have spent one or two Friday nights out in Hull.

Rat arsed
From a human's back side to that of a rodent, I can only imagine that rat arsed entered British English (BrE) because "ferret bummed" wasn't quite punchy enough. Either way, there are few better ways to describe yourself after eight cans of Newcastle Brown Ale than with rat arsed, especially since your drunken self would likely fail to comprehend quite how absurd the phrase is.

In America, of course, this word means something altogether different - used, in fact, to denote that someone is angry (e.g. Michael was pissed at the wankers who towed his car). In Britain (as well as Australia and New Zealand), pissed is a very common word to describe the state of being drunk. The latter usage is first attested from 1929, while the American usage is even more recent, first recorded in 1946. The reason behind either coinage remains unclear, but there's a good chance that the British employment of the word is tied to the idea of relieving oneself after a couple of pints. And speaking of things that are influenced by alcohol consumption...

The British word for a shopping cart is trolley. The fact that the British have transformed this word into the past participle adjective trolleyed (to mean extremely drunk) is indicative of another cultural phenomenon: trolley surfing - a popular drinking activity that should be filed under "it seemed like a good idea at the time". 

Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Click the red button below.

Laurence Brown is a British man writing his way through the truly bizarre world of America - a place he sometimes accidentally calls home and a place he still hasn't quite figured out after seven years. Thankfully, his journey is made 12% easier by the fact that his accent makes him sound much smarter than he is. For evidence of this, subscribe to his popular Lost in the Pond web series over on YouTube.


  1. See Steph. See Dom. See Steph and Dom have a drink. See them have some more. Watch them upend the couch and break things.

  2. "Below are 10 wonderful British slang words for drunk." I drink you mean 5. Or maybe I'm too pissed to count.


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