Six phrases to describe being drunk in French

From cul sec to boire comme un trou, we take a look inside France’s drink-related lexicon

Just as in English, there are so many ways to describe being drunk in French
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The French phrase cul sec was brought back into the limelight this week after the antics of Emmanuel Macron.

Footage of the French president downing a beer in one after a rugby final was widely shared on social media.

Cul sec translated literally means ‘dry bottom’, but in this instance, it refers to finishing a drink in one go.

Here we look at other French phrases that are related to drinking or being drunk.

1. Être un peu pompette - to be a little tipsy

This seems like a good place to start - the feeling you get after a couple of glasses: tipsy. Pompette can also mean merry, which fits nicely with the description of tipsy. You can also use etre éméché to evoke the same meaning.

For example: “Après deux verres, c’est sûr que je serai un peu pompette!” (“After two glasses I will definitely be a little tipsy”).

2. Être bourré - to be smashed/wasted/hammered

Just like in English, French often takes a verb with a slightly aggressive nature to imply being very drunk.

Être bourré, which comes from the verb se bourrer, which means to get drunk; être fracassé, which comes from the verb fracasser which means to smash; and être défoncé, which comes from the verb défoncer, which means to smash something open, are all prime examples of this.

An example is: “J'étais complètement bourré hier soir.

3. Être rabat - to be drunk

Rabat derives from Arabic, like many French slang words, and in this context means to be drunk.

This language is more commonly used amongst younger French speakers, having entered the vocabulary more recently.

4. Être rond comme une queue de pelle - drunk as a skunk/lord

The literal translation here means to be ‘round like the tail of a spade’. However, when you hear this phrase, it is actually the equivalent of being “as drunk as a skunk”.

Read also: Where in France do people admit to drinking too much alcohol?

5. Boire comme un trou - to drink like a fish

This literally translates to “drink like a hole” but the English equivalent would be to “drink like a fish”.

Like cul sec (down in one), if someone is guzzling their alcohol, you can say “Il boit comme un trou !” (“He drinks like a fish!”)

6. Avoir la gueule de bois - to have a hangover

A good place to end and how you might be feeling the day after using any of these words. Gueule de bois literally translates as ‘mouth of wood’, which refers to that dry feeling you have in your mouth the day after drinking.

For example, if you have been drinking all night, you can say “On va avoir la grosse gueule de bois demain” (“We’re going to be really hungover tomorrow”).

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