Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Sat Nov 6 10:56:14 UTC 2010

My own take on the background to this word in this week's World Wide

points out that the fashionable male bright young things of the early
1920s in the US were reported to use a hair lacquer derived from shellac
(or, to be careful about it, were said to have "shellacked hair"). A
subscriber points out that, as this was the period of Prohibition, the
lacquer would have been one of the few preparations lawfully containing
alcohol. Might this be the origin of the slang term for being drunk?

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words

The American Dialect Society -

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