Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Dick from Kingsley phoned in the word crapulent. It started as a Greek word meaning a hangover. As the Oxford English Dictionary points out, when the Romans adapted the word, they placed the focus on the cause of the hangover, excessive drinking. So sometimes crapulent is used to mean the suffering caused by overindulgence, and sometimes the imbibing itself.

Vinolent was once a companion word. Specifically, it referred to excessive intake of wine, and the resulting headache and nausea. And, at one time, methomania was a classy word for alcoholism. It came from a Greek word meaning a sweet wine, and it led to the English word mead. Dipsomnia was a synonym; at its core was a Greek word meaning thirst. Inebriation fits the same category. In Latin, ebrius meant drunk. Intoxicated literally means having imbibed poison, though now it is used as a synonym for drunk. Finally, bibulous means addicted to drinking.

Dick also asked if the word crap (as in, I feel like crap after last night’s binge) is related to crapulent. It turns out that it’s not. Crap comes from the Dutch krappe, originally the grain trodden under foot in the barn and mingled with the straw and dust. Eventually, it evolved into excrement.

Time to give nephalism* a chance?

*[Greek νnφειν, to be sober]

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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