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Half in the bag

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 17, 2008 at 04:01

In Reply to: Half in the bag posted by ESC on December 04, 2008 at 22:43:

: : What is the origin of the phrase 'half in the bag'?

: Do you mean "in the bag" meaning drunk? This a guess. When one buys liquor, the clerk usually puts it one of those little bags. And if a person is wanting to be discrete while taking a drink in public, he leaves the bag on. In West Virginia, liquor used to only be sold in "state stores," also called "bag stores."

An alternative meaning refers back to the figurative meaning of "in the bag," namely, virtually done, assured of completion, as in "It's in the bag, the job is his," or, "It's in the bag, the committee's approval virtually makes certain that the legislature will get this done." One can imagine that "half in the bag" could be used to indicate that a particular course of action was half-certain to come about. Perhaps the context would make clearer what was meant by the phrase.