The Guinness World Records holder for the most synonyms for one word:
Wise-guy lexicographer Paul Dickson, a consulting editor at Merriam-Webster, has long held the record for collecting the “Most Synonyms” for any term in the English language. He made the Guinness Book of World Records with 2,231 terms meaning “drunk”—beating out no less than Benjamin Franklin, who published his own list (The Drinker’s Dictionary) in 1736. But records are made to be broken…
Enter Drunk, wherein Dickson breaks his own record by a mile with more than 3,000 terms for tipsy, such as blitzed, roasted, on the sauce, whazood, whiskey frisky, and Boris Yelstinned. And that’s just the beginning!
An introduction puts the list into context: Why are there so many synonyms for “drunk” and how did Dickson get to collecting them? Dickson’s wacky terms are annotated, too, and lushly illustrated, explaining the twist and turns of a language that has thousands of ways to describe somebody who is two sheets to the wind. How, for example, does a word like “blotto” go from the lips of P.G. Wodehouse, into the writings of Edmund Wilson, before landing with Otto from The Simpsons. And Brian Rea, the former Art Director for the New York Times Op-Ed pages, adds a laugh with his illustrations of some of the most visual entries.
It’s a terrific exploration of the flexibility of the English language and a hilarious meditation on drinking culture throughout the ages.
The New York Post: an interview with Paul Dickson.
Paul Dickson talks about Drunk on NPR’s All Things Considered.
The LA Times’ Jacket Copy pontificates on Drunk.
“Dickson has done it again, entrancing those who want to eavesdrop on the slanguage of everyone from barista to bitheads.”
—Erin McKean, editor of Verbatim: The Language Quarterly
“With focus, a passion for language, and a world-class ear, Dickson has produced brilliant chapter after brilliant chapter, any one of which would be a lifetime achievement for most lexicographers.”
—Tom Dalzell, author of Flappers to Rappers—American Youth Slang