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In their cups

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 16, 2006

In Reply to: In their cups posted by Sandi on March 14, 2006

: Where does the phrase "in their cups" originate?

Where? In England, of course.. When? A very long time ago.. Cups has been used for a few centuries to mean especially cups of something alcoholic. The discussion in the Oxford English Dictionary includes some dates: "[cup] 10. pl[ural]. The drinking of intoxicating liquor; potations, drunken revelry. in one's cups: (a) while drinking, during a drinking-bout (also {dagger}amidst, {dagger}among, {dagger}at, over one's cups); (b) in a state of intoxication, 'in liquor'.
1406 HOCCLEVE La Male Regle 165 For in the cuppe seelden fownden is, {Th}at any wight his neigheburgh commendith. 1551 ROBINSON tr. More's Utop. (Arb.) 26 Amonge their cuppes they geue iudgement of the wittes of writers. 1611 BIBLE 1 Esdras iii. 22 And when they are in their cups, they forget their loue both to friends and brethren...."
.This phrase is still in use, as, e.g., "He admitted, in his cups, that he hated his job." "In his cups he liked to demonstrate his beautiful (so he thought) singing voice." SS