Eight Kinds of Drunkenness

It's been some time since I delved into 'Merry-Go-Down', that essential reader for topers, so I thought I'd revisit it. An extract by Thomas Nashe caught my eye - in 'Pierce Penniless: His Supplication to the Devil' (1592), Nash identifies eight kinds of drunkenness:

1) Ape-drunke; one where the toper "leapes, and sings, and hollowes, and danceth for the heavens".

2) Lion-drunke; "He flings the pots about the house, calls his Hostesse whore, breakes the glasse windowes with his dagger, and is apt to quarrel with any man that speaks to him".

3) Swine drunke; the subject is "heavy, lumpish, and sleepie, and cries for a little more drinke, and a fewe more cloathes".

4) Sheepe drunk; a drinker "wise in his owne conceipt, when he cannot bring forth a right word".

5) Mawdlen drunke; "A fellow will weepe for kindness in the midst of his ale, and kisse you, saying; By God Captaine I love thee, goe thy waies thou dost not thinke so often of me as I do of thee, i would (if it pleased God) could I not love thee so well as I do, and then he puts his finger in his eie, and cries".

6) Martin drunke; "a man is drunke and drinkes himself sober ere he stirre".

7) Goate drunke; one who "hath no minde but on Lechery".

8) Fox drunke; "He is craftie drunke, as many of the Dutch men bee, will never bargaine but when they are drunke".

Rather than something to be revered, Nash warns the reader against the 'slavering brewery, that will make you have stinking breathes, and your bodies smell like Brewer's aprons". Yeah, right.

But I can identify myself lurking on that list several times over. Certainly I've been prone to swine-drunkenness in my time. And I know a few martin-drunk types, who may or may not actually be called Martin and must remain nameless for legal reasons.

Which kind of drunk are you? I'm sure you want to tell the world. We've probably all seen the photos on Facebook, anyway...

Incidentally, Thomas Nashe is credited with the first English usage of the word 'dildo', in his soft porn poem 'The Choice of Valentines'.


  1. Personally, I usually find myself to be a mixture of swine, goate and Marty Feldman.

    The 'eight stages of drunkenness' reminds me of this passage from Charles Maclean's "Whisky Tales"

    "The best study of the degrees of drunkenness we have encountered comes from William Grant Stewart, who lived in Tomintoul in the 1820s. In later life, he recalled the observations of 'a late ingenious Highland physician', who divided drunkenness into three stages: 'Blythe', 'Bosky' and 'Borajo'.

    'Under the influence of the first bottle, the Blythe stage of excitement begins with an increase of heat, muscular strength and accelerated circulation; animated countenance; vivid powers of imagination, and an easy flow of wit and humour...Daily cares are left behind...and now and anon is heard a Gaelic song.'

    'As the drinking continues, the party verges on intoxication. Repetition of toasts; the vacant laugh and incoherent exclamation, mingled with emphatic oathes, perpetually burst upon the ear of the auditory. Noise and ribaldry usurp the place of mirth. It is at this stage that the quarrelling and fighting generally take place. Construing some casual remark as an insult, a violent collie-shangie or altercation ensues. This is the Bosky stage....

    'With bottle number three, all excessive excitement is followed by a corresponding collapse, the operators by degrees sink into a state of lethargy, or at best their exclamations are incoherent and confused...muttering unitelligible soliloquies; these subsiding efforts of the imagination soon declining into a state of profound somnolency, accompanied by snoring or stertorous sound. The drinker is now in the third or Borajo state, or what is commonly called "Dead Drunk" '.

    Borajo is, I'd guess, derived from the Spanish word 'borracho', meaning 'drunk', as any fule kno