Being inebriated

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Aug 17 13:09:02 UTC 2009

It might be interesting to compare the 1771/1770 lists of 80 terms,
from The Providence Gazette and the Gentleman's Magazine, with the
1736 list of 227 terms that is still erroneously referred to as
Benjamin Franklin's.  There are more than a few in Ben's list I don't
recall from 1736, including "tar on his heel".


At 8/16/2009 06:42 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake wrote:

>I should add that the expression "tar on his heel" was mentioned in 1818 as
>a synonym for "inebriated."  This according to an updated list of ways to
>say "drunken"; see, for example, *The National Aegis* (Worcester, Mass., 18
>February 1818, p. 4) and *The Dartmouth Gazette* (Hanover, 4 March 1818, p.
>3), both viewable in the America's Historical Newspapers database.  (In
>2004, Ben Zimmer posted a 1771 version of the list, which lacked "tar on his
>heel."  See link far below.)
>Of course, it's anyone's guess whether 1840's "we wear tar on our heels" is
>related to 1846's "Tar heels."
>-- Bonnie

The American Dialect Society -

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