Posted by ESC on August 10, 2004
In Reply to: Bombed posted by Bookworm on August 09, 2004
: : : : : I saw this in an Agatha Christie novel. A man was in a motorcycle accident and the policeman suggested that he may have been one over (the) eight. (I am not sure if the 'the' is correct or not). From the context, I take it to mean "drunk". Any idea as to the origin? I am guessing it is British, I've never heard it here in the US.
: : : : From a drunkctionary and from merseytalk dot com or net or org:
: : : : "one over the eight: The tradition was that eight pints was the maximum intake on a given night. One more could cause stumbling on the way home. See also bombed."
: : : It's still a common phrase in the UK. Origin: as given by Bruce.
: : the blood acohol limit in a number of jurisdictions is .8 Could this be the 'over the 8' that is mentioned in the phrase?
: Probably not. The book was written in 1934. I don't think blood alcohol levels were an issue back then, as they are now.
From the Phrase Finder dictionary:
Meaning -- Drunk.
Origin -- UK origin. Comes from the notion that eight drinks is okay: any more makes you drunk.
"one over the eight. Heard more in England than in the U.S., this expression means to be drunk. It derives from the old superstition that one always becomes drunk after the eighth drink and not before." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).