Learn useful drinking idioms with meaning and examples in English.
List of commonly used drinking idioms in English.
You can jump to any section of this lesson:
- 1 (See the) Glass (as) Half Empty/Half Full
- 2 110 Proof
- 3 Amber Nectar
- 4 Back Burner (On The)
- 5 Bend an Elbow
- 6 Champagne taste on a beer budget
- 7 Do 12-Ounce Curls
- 8 Drink the Kool-Aid
- 9 Dutch Courage
- 10 Go Cold Turkey
- 11 Hair of the Dog (That Bit You)
- 12 Hold One’s Liquor
- 13 In His Cups
- 14 On the Wagon
- 15 One for the Road
- 16 Paint the Town Red
- 17 Wet Your Whistle
(See the) Glass (as) Half Empty/Half Full
- Meaning: To have a pessimistic (optimistic) perspective
- Example: Mark is a glass half full kind of person. He’s always convinced that things are going to get better.
Note: These images are used in sentences with various constructions. The phrase can be an adjective or the object of the
- Meaning: Stronger than strong, very strong, pure
- Example: Bob is a 110-proof Conservative – I’ve never seen him vote for a Labor candidate.
- Meaning: Beer
- Example: The beer market used to be controlled by large companies, but now many small firms are producing the amber nectar.
Note: This idiom is British.
Back Burner (On The)
- Meaning: Not urgent; set aside until later
- Example: The mission statement is on the back burner. We have more important problems to deal with.
Note: Used with “on the.” Can also be a verb: to back-burner something.
Bend an Elbow
- Meaning: Drink alcoholic beverages at a tavern
- Example: I have to work tonight, but let’s go bend an elbow later in the week.
Champagne taste on a beer budget
- Meaning: Expensive or extravagant tastes or preferences that are beyond one’s economic means.
- Example: I only earn minimum wage, but I can’t stop buying designer clothes and eating at the best restaurants—I guess I’ve got champagne taste on a beer budget!
Do 12-Ounce Curls
- Meaning: Drink beer
- Example: I was sitting in the bar, doing 12-ounce curls, when she walked in. My life has never been the same.
Note: This idiom is primarily American.
Drink the Kool-Aid
- Meaning: Accept a set of ideas uncritically, often dangerous ones
- Example: John has joined a religious cult, and he’s drinking the Kool-Aid. You can’t reason with him right now.
Note: The idiom refers to the Jonestown, Guyana, massacre in 1978, when followers of the Rev. Jim Jones committed mass suicide by drinking Kool-Aid (a sweet drink) mixed with poison.
Useful Idioms about Drinking in English
… Useful Drinking Idioms …
- Meaning: Alcohol drunk with the intention of working up the nerve to do something
- Example: With a generous intake of Dutch courage, I finally gained the confidence to ask Maria out.
Note: “Liquid courage” is also used and is more common in the USA.
Go Cold Turkey
- Meaning: Stop using an addictive substance suddenly, without tapering off
- Example: I quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey five years ago today, and I haven’t had a cigarette since.
Note: This is often used with “quit,” as in the example.
Hair of the Dog (That Bit You)
- Meaning: A small amount of the alcoholic beverage that caused your hangover
- Example: Do you have a hangover? Try a hair of the dog that bit you.
Hold One’s Liquor
- Meaning: Be able to drink a large amount without being affected
- Example: Jed can hold his liquor. I’ve never seen him pass out. But I still wouldn’t let him drive.
In His Cups
- Meaning: Drunk
- Example: Don’t bother Joseph when he’s in his cups – he’s very irritable.
On the Wagon
- Meaning: Not drinking alcoholic beverages; having given up drinking alcoholic beverages
- Example: I’ll just take a Coke – I’m on the wagon.
Note: You can also “fall off the wagon.”
One for the Road
- Meaning: A final drink (or something else) before leaving
- Example: Give me a beer. I’m having one for the road.
Note: This may also be used for other things besides drinks (like cookies).
Paint the Town Red
- Meaning: Go out drinking and partying
- Example: I just finished my last exam. Let’s go out and paint the town red!
Wet Your Whistle
- Meaning: Drink someting
- Example: You’ve been out in the sun for two hours. Come on in and wet your whistle!
- (See the) Glass (as) Half Empty/Half Full
- Alcohol idioms
- Back Burner (On The)
- Bend an Elbow
- Champagne taste on a beer budget
- Do 12-Ounce Curls
- Drink the Kool-Aid
- Drinking and pubs Idioms
- Dutch Courage
- english idioms: drinking
- Go Cold Turkey
- Hair of the Dog (That Bit You)
- Hold One's Liquor
- idioms about drinking
- idioms for kids
- list of idioms
- social life idioms: drinking
- useful idioms about social life