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4 min read
Max Gowan
December 6, 2023
Reading time
4 min read

How to describe being drunk in English

In this article, we'll explore how to describe being drunk in English and the importance of safe drinking.
How to describe being drunk in English

How to describe being drunk in English

Some people like to let loose and have a drink or two... or three. It's all part of enjoying life and embracing the moment. But what happens when you want to express your level of intoxication in English? How do you describe someone who's had a few too many drinks? Well, fear not, because we're here to guide you through the varied vocabulary of inebriation.

Bottoms up!

First of all, when you're in the company of friends and want to encourage everyone to join in the drinking fun, you can make a joyful cheer by lifting your glass and saying, "Bottoms up!" This phrase is commonly used for toasting and creating a festive atmosphere. It's a quintessential English expression that brings people together to celebrate and enjoy each other's company. 

Two women drinking shots

Feeling tipsy and buzzed

Let's start with the milder levels of intoxication. When you want to convey that you're slightly drunk, there are a couple of terms you can use: "tipsy" and "buzzed." For example, you might say, "I speak foreign languages more fluently when I'm tipsy," or "I was buzzed after just one drink."

These terms capture the light-headed, giddy feeling that comes with indulging in a few alcoholic beverages. They're perfect for describing those moments when you're enjoying a drink without going overboard.

Woman drinking beer from a can

Being wasted

As the alcohol intake increases, so does the vocabulary to describe it. If you find yourself moderately drunk, particularly in your mid-twenties, and in the mood for a playful term, you might use the word "wasted." For example, you could say "I'm so wasted, bro." This phrase lets people know that you've had a little too much to drink. It adds a touch of informality and youthfulness to your description.

One man nodding and talking to another man


Moving into the realm of heavy drinking, we encounter the word "intoxicated." This term is used to describe people who have consumed large amounts of alcohol and are clearly under its influence. If you were a bartender seeing a patron who's had a few too many getting ready to leave, you might kindly suggest, "You can't drive home because you're intoxicated. Let me call you a cab."

Drunk man falling off a chair

Here, "intoxicated" serves as a more formal way of saying "very drunk" or "under the influence." It conveys the seriousness of the situation while still addressing the issue at hand.

Slang terms

In informal settings, like parties, people often use colorful expressions to describe their level of drunkenness. Terms like "sloshed," "smashed," "wrecked," "hammered," or "plastered" are commonly used.

For instance, someone might exclaim, "I'm so hammered! I didn't mean to get this sloshed," or "I'm blind drunk right now." These phrases add a touch of humor and exaggeration to the conversation, highlighting the intensity of the drinking experience.

Drunk woman holding up a flask and winking

The morning after

Often, a night of heavy drinking is followed by the morning-after consequence: the dreaded hangover. The word "hangover" describes the severe headache and other unpleasant aftereffects caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Man with a hangover

So, if you wake up feeling the aftermath of a wild night, you might say, "I'm hungover" or "I have such a hangover! I shouldn't have gotten so wasted." These expressions capture the feeling of regret and physical discomfort that can accompany a night of heavy drinking.

Tanked up and loaded

Having covered various levels of drunkenness, what about instances where someone is too drunk to speak coherently? In such cases, you can use the terms "tanked up" or "loaded" to describe their incoherent speech and impaired communication.

Woman pouring beer into a large jug

For example, if a friend is slurring their words and mumbling at passersby, you could say, "Ignore him. He's tanked-up," "Don't pay him any mind. He's tanked," or "Never mind him. He's loaded." These expressions vividly capture the state of being heavily intoxicated and struggling to articulate thoughts clearly.

Inebriated for formal occasions

In formal settings, 'inebriated' is often used instead of 'drunk' to maintain decorum. For instance, if you're referring to a co-worker who got drunk at the holiday office party, you might opt to say, "Peggy was inebriated" instead of "Peggy was so drunk that she was dancing on top of the copy machine."

People drinking and dancing at an office party

This choice of words allows you to discuss the situation with a touch of professionalism while still conveying the intended meaning.

Legal implications

Being aware of the legal consequences of alcohol consumption is crucial. In many countries, including the US, it's illegal to have an open bottle of beer or alcohol on a public street. Engaging in such behavior can result in receiving a ticket or even getting arrested.

Additionally, driving under the influence of alcohol carries severe penalties. If you're caught driving while intoxicated, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). These are serious offenses that can have long-lasting legal ramifications.

Man getting a ticket from a police officer

Designated drivers

It is important to keep yourself and others safe while you drink. The best way you can do this is by having a "designated driver." A designated driver is a sober companion who keeps an eye on the group and drives everyone home to make sure they are all safe. Remember, drinking and driving is dangerous, and using a designated driver or calling a cab can save your life and the lives of others.

Man pointing and warning

Drink responsibly and know your limits

Finally, like many aspects of life, there are right and wrong ways to approach drinking. It's essential to be responsible, know your limits, and not push them. Understanding the English vocabulary related to intoxication allows you to navigate social situations and communicate your level of inebriation effectively.

So, whether you're raising your glass to toast, having a casual night out, or attending a formal event, remember to drink responsibly, enjoy the moment, and make memories that you'll cherish (even if they're a bit hazy).

Old man looking merry