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cut = drunk
Posted: 28 June 2012 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I was reading the LRB review (by John Barrell) of The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840, by J. M. Beattie, when I came across this sentence: “They were expected to be ready to act at very short notice and most of them lived very near the court in the streets around Covent Garden, but hung out, when on call, in the Brown Bear, and like many TV cops must have done much of their investigating when half-cut.” From the context it was clear that “cut” must mean “drunk,” and a dip into the Cassell Dictionary of Slang confirmed that it has had that slang sense since the 18th century, but I’d never run into it before, and I was curious: Is it ubiquitous in the UK?  Is it used in Australia? South Africa?  Inquiring minds want to know!

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Posted: 28 June 2012 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I have been speaking UK English (more or less) with UK English users, and reading it quite avidly, for many decades, and do not recall ever having heard “cut” used to mean “drunk”. Nor do I recall ever having seen it in print, used in that sense. Perhaps it may have been more common in Bow Street Runner days than in the 20-21 centuries. The British have about as many names for inebriety as the Eskimos have for snow ;-), but “cut”, in my opinion, is an uncommon one. It may be regional slang, from some part of London. Londoners would be more likely to know about that.

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Posted: 28 June 2012 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve often heard “half-cut” to mean drunk, but never “cut” on its own.  I grew up in the Lancashire-Cheshire area of UK.  I did a quick survey of two other adults, one from the same area (in his 50s) and one from Yorkshire (in her 80s), and both knew it immediately.  But whether younger people would know it, I can’t say.

It’s true there are many words for drunk, beside the universal p-word.  There’s sloshed, palatic/paralytic, boozed up, three sheets to the wind/wide, smashed, off his face, blotto, one over the eight, sozzled, sauced, kaylied - and “druffun” (sp?), a completely new one to me, which my Yorkshire guest just came up with.

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Posted: 28 June 2012 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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John Barrell was born in 1943 in South London and educated at Cambridge University, if that’s relevant.

I’ve never heard of “cut” in the UK. I’ve heard “half cut” once or twice.

Edit:
Test your knowledge of English slang here.

[ Edited: 28 June 2012 10:03 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 28 June 2012 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Interesting; it would seem that “half-cut” is hanging on as a remnant, but “cut” by itself is buried with the Bow Street runners themselves.  Thanks!

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Posted: 28 June 2012 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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HDAS shows this “cut” (and variations), many non-US, first citation dated 1650, one by B. Franklin from 1722, no recent US examples.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’m with Slam and Eliza on this. I’ve heard ‘half-cut’, not often, but enough to recognise it easily, but never ‘cut’.

Knowing the expression is of course essential to understanding the old joke about the chap who watered his lawn with whisky so that he would save time in mowing it. The grass came up half-cut. (Boom boom.)

Also to Slam’s list I would offer the Caledonian contributions of steamin’ and blootered.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Half-cut to mean drunk is very common indeed in my area (Portsmouth, England). I’ve never heard it without the first element.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Here is a BBC list of UK words for drunk:

Ankled (Bristol), Badgered, Banjaxed, Battered, Befuggered, Bernard Langered, Bladdered, Blasted, Blathered, Bleezin, Blitzed, Blootered, Blottoed, Bluttered, Boogaloo, Brahms & Liszt, Buckled, Burlin
Cabbaged, Chevy Chased, Clobbered
Decimated, Dot Cottoned, Druck-steaming, Drunk as a Lord, Drunk as a skunk
Etched
Fecked, Fleemered (Germany), Four to the floor
Gatted, Goosed, Got my beer goggles on, Guttered (Inverness)
Had a couple of shickers, Hammer-blowed, Hammered, Hanging, Having the whirlygigs, Howling
Inebriated, Intoxicated
Jahalered, Jaiked up (West of Scotland), Jan’d - abbrev for Jan Hammered, Jaxied, Jeremied, Jolly
Kaned
Lagged up, Lamped, Langered (Ireland) [also langers, langerated], Laroped, or alt. larrupt, Lashed, Leathered, Legless, Liquored up (South Carolina), Locked, Locked out of your mind (Ireland), Loo la
Mad wey it, Mandoo-ed, Mangled, Manky, Mashed, Meff’d, Merl Haggard, Merry, Minced, Ming-ho, Minging, Moired, Monged, Monkey-full, Mottled, Mullered
Newcastled, Nicely irrigated with horizontal lubricant
Off me pickle, Off me trolley, On a campaign, Out of it, Out yer tree
Paggered, Palintoshed, Paraletic, Peelywally, Peevied, Pickled, Pie-eyed, Pished, Plastered, Poleaxed, Pollatic
Rat-legged (Stockport), Ratted, Ravaged, Razzled, Reek-ho, Rendered, Rosy glow, Rubbered, Ruined
Saying hello to Mr Armitage, Scattered, Schindlers, Screwed, Scuttered (Dublin), Shedded [as in “ My shed has collapsed taking most of the fence with it"], Slaughtered, Sloshed, Smashed, Snatered (Ireland), Snobbled (Wales), Sozzled, Spangled, Spannered, Spiffed, Spongelled, Squiffy, Steamin, Steampigged, Stocious, Stonkin
Tanked, Tashered, Tipsy, Trashed, Trollied, Troubled, Trousered, Twisted
Warped, Wasted, Wellied, With the fairies, Wrecked
Zombied

but these are the most common:

1) Pi***d 35%
2) Hammered 11%
3) Bladdered 10%
4) Mullered 9%
5) Wasted 9%
6) Lashed 7%
7) Steamin 6%
8) Wrecked 6%
9) Paralytic 4%
10) Blootered 3%

Edit - neither cut nor half-cut are mentioned here. Interesting that half-cut is common in Portsmouth and not much in evidence in the north of England and Scotland.

[ Edited: 29 June 2012 03:40 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 29 June 2012 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’m reminded of half seas over, another expression meaning drunk, although one which I admittedly rarely if ever encounter outside literature these days. Three sheets to the wind is another which now gets little use, at least in this neck of the woods.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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What a splendid list, Eliza.

I note ‘stocious’ in the list, which I think of as being a Scots contribution to this subject area.

‘Peelywally’ is a bit out of place. It’s a general expression just meaning ‘a bit off-colour’. It would of course be applicable to the feeling the morning after a serious night on the bevvy.

In the interests of completeness, I must point out the beeb’s omission of ‘rat-arsed’.

Some while back, a friend of mine and I were bemoaning the lack of a more respectably medical-sounding term for this condition. We came up with ‘hypotrapezal’.

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Posted: 30 June 2012 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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A spectacular list, indeed - but where’s tight?

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Posted: 30 June 2012 03:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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English speakers who use Yiddish slang terms would add shicker or shikker - from Hebrew shikor, drunk. I think this term is commonly used (not only among Jews - cf. goniff) in Oz slang.

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Posted: 30 June 2012 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Shit-faced is another popular term. And I always liked the coded expression used by Private Eye and other organs of the Press, tired and emotional. Labour Minister George Brown was often thus described.

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Posted: 30 June 2012 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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So the Eskimos don’t have 500 words for snow but the English language has well over that number for being under the influence ... which must mean something. It all started with the Anglo-Saxons. In Beowulf food is mentioned a couple of times but mead and alcohol are referenced multiple times.

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Posted: 01 July 2012 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Iron Pyrite - 30 June 2012 06:04 PM

So the Eskimos don’t have 500 words for snow but the English language has well over that number for being under the influence ... which must mean something. It all started with the Anglo-Saxons. In Beowulf food is mentioned a couple of times but mead and alcohol are referenced multiple times.

And at least that many for the naughty bits.

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