phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"Pick your poison"

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 28, 2006

In Reply to: "Pick your poison" posted by Isabel on April 28, 2006

: Hi, We are wondering the origin of the the phrase, "Pick your poison". I am guessing it has something to do with Aristotle but others are guessing it is in reference to Henry VIII

The origin is simply that since the mid-19th century "poison" has been slang for alcoholic drink (in Australia a pub was known as a "poison-shop"). This may refer to the Latin root "toxicum" (meaning "poison")of the word "intoxicate", or it may just be a reference ro the bad effects of excessive drinking. Thus the phrases "what's your poison?" "Pick your poison" and "choose your poison" arose naturally. There is no reference to any historic incident, and no connection with Aristotle or Henry VIII, neither of whom was either poisoned, or poisoned anybody! You may be muddling Aristotle with Socrates, who was convicted of impiety by an Athenian court and sentenced to die by drinking hemlock. He had the choice of fleeing Athens or drinking the hemlock - but he didn't get a choice of what poison to drink.

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