Log in Become a Member


drunkenness (GB)
borrachera (ES)
ivresse (F)
ebbrezza (I)
dronkenschap (N)

General term for an emotional state of heightened ecstasy or an intense feeling of happiness that lifts someone above their normal emotional state. Such a state is caused by psychotropic substances, among other things. These are substances that influence the human psyche. Depending on the active substance, this is associated with disorders of consciousness, cognitive abilities, perception, affect and behaviour. The intoxication is subsequently treated by drinking alcohol. With excessive consumption alcohol causes disinhibition, increased emotionality, inhibition of thinking, numbness and overestimation of self. In early advanced civilizations, excessive consumption of alcohol was a ritualized custom on certain occasions until the point of full drunkenness. Until the Middle Ages, excessive intoxication was considered normal. From the 16th century onwards it was outlawed and from the 19th century onwards it was increasingly regarded as a disease(alcoholism).

Hand mit Handschelle und Schnapsglas / Betrunkener

Stages of development / degree of drunkenness

The state of intoxication is a state of excitement or twilight lasting minutes to hours, which is usually accompanied by misunderstanding of the situation in the form of sensory delusions and always leaves behind complete or partial amnesia (loss of memory). In the case of alcohol poisoning, the first symptoms are mental disinhibition, increased urge to speak and move with frequent transition to depression and aggression, which can increase to destructive rage. After the intoxication has subsided, there are often after-effects of poisoning known as hangovers. Alcohol consumption leads in stages from well-being and feelings of happiness in extreme cases to a drunken stupor and can even end fatally. The stages of development in per mille:

  • 0,3: Start of effect of alcohol, legal limit in Germany
  • 0.5: clear feeling of warmth, exhilaration, legal limit in Austria
  • 0.8: clearly limited reactivity, legal limit in Switzerland
  • 1,0: Concentration and coordination problems, first speech disorders
  • 1,5: heavy drunkenness, slurred speech
  • 1,8: stronger intoxication with disinhibition and fluctuating walking
  • 2,0: uncontrolled staggering, nausea, vomiting
  • 2,3: strong intoxication with apathy and fatigue, amnesia (memory loss)
  • 2,5: drunken stupor, from here on there is danger to life
  • 3,0: one can no longer stand upright, loss of consciousness
  • 4.0: lethal dose

The temperance societies (abstinence movements) that emerged in the 19th century attempted to draw attention to the dangers of alcohol consumption, in some cases by daring means. The relevant cartoon "The development of a drunkard - from the first glass to the grave" dates from 1846:

Temperenz - Stadien des Alkoholismus - vom ersten Glas bis zum Grabe

Compatibility of alcohol

The tolerability of alcohol, i.e. the amount of alcohol that can be drunk, depends on age, physical constitution, sex, type of person and the speed at which the drink is drunk. Women and especially East Asians, indigenous peoples of America (Indians) and Australia (Aborigines) have less ADH, ALDH and also other degradation enzymes and are therefore drunk faster and longer. A completely different criterion is the amount of alcohol that is safe or harmless to health when consumed regularly (daily). This is stated differently in the relevant literature and fluctuates considerably between 20 and 60 grams of alcohol daily (see under Health). Alcohol has a high nutritional value, around 95% is converted into energy.

The alcohol consumed passes from the stomach (20%) and small intestine (80%) first immediately into the bloodstream and then into body tissue (absorption). The distribution depends on the amount of blood (approx. 5 to 7l) and the body size or body surface area, the more extensive, the better the alcohol is distributed. Fatty tissue, however, can hardly absorb alcohol. Therefore, a tall, lean person distributes alcohol more and there is relatively less alcohol concentration in the blood compared to a short, fat person. The absorption process is relatively slow and (depending on the stomach contents) is only completed one to two hours after the end of drinking. The calculation of the alcohol level is described under blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Intoxication as therapy

Many scientists of the 18th and 19th century dealt with intoxication as a therapy and especially wine was considered the ideal drink to get into this euphoric state, but always provided company (excessive drinking alone is a sign of possible alcohol addiction). The German natural scientist Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) also dealt with this in his theory of the monadic soul and its inability to perceive the "subcritical" movements of the environment while awake. Only the slight intoxication sharpens the senses and expands the sensual horizon of experience. The US psycho-pharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel writes in the book "Rauschdrogen bei Tieren und Menschen" that intoxication as a fourth instinct, just like sex, hunger and thirst, can never be suppressed.

In his essay "The Intoxication - A Philosophical Aperitif", the important Greek philosopher Kostis Papajorgis (*1940) unfolds a philosophy of passion for delirium from Homer to Baudelaire and Dostoevsky to Jack London. Far from defending the anaesthetic of everyday worries or a slurred society, Papajorgis tells of true intoxication, the secret of which lies in "renouncing domination over oneself" and which is the privilege of the noble or vulgar souls who have a tendency to self-destruction. He who drinks only water has something to hide (ex AMAZON).

However, the health risks cannot be emphasized strongly enough. The difference between moderate wine consumption and alcohol abuse is described in an essay by the Austrian poet Peter Rosegger (1843-1918). The quantities of alcohol that are presumably not harmful to health are explained under Health, where further information and references to keywords are also included.

Designations for excessive consumption of alcohol

Drinking is colloquially the most common term (someone "drinks" or "boozes") for excessive alcohol consumption, or "drunkard" for an alcoholic. Apart from "drunkard" there are many other imaginative names such as Becherant, Bsuf, Saftler, Saufbold, Saufnase, Schlucker, Schluckspecht, Schnapsdrossel, Schnapsnase, Süffel, Suffkopp, Suffköpp, Trankler, Trinker, Trunkenbold, Tschecherant, Weinbold and Zecher.

There are as many terms for excessive consumption as, for example, "he (she) drinks so much that a mill wheel could drive it" or "booze like a brush binder (abbot, well, canon, Franciscan, hole, cow, sponge, sink). Other terms are "Ausuxen", "Becher", "Binge drinking", "Dudeln", "Piperln", "Safteln", "Süffeln", "Trankeln" (the "k" more like "g"), "Tschechern" and "Zechen". For drunkenness these are, for example, having a monkey, balla, fire, steam, steamers, dullijöh, dusel, flag, Fett'n, Fetz'n, Habemus, Hormel, Mugl, intoxication, Schwåmmer, Schw Schwindel, Schwips, Spitz, Stibes, Stich, Stobax, Suff, Tschaggele and Taumel.

Depending on the degree of alcoholisation, there are many hearty expressions such as bottled, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk, beguiled, drunk, blue (like a violet), blunzenfett, bummtirlzua, eing'spritzt, one in the barge, one in the crown, one in the intus, one stick, one sit, one beat, to have a star, to be in delir(ium), to have drunk one over thirst, to be fat (like field howitzer, like beach howitzer, like the Russian earth), to be loaded, groggy, grotty, chopping, over, illuminated, to be in jum, be in the oil, in the wave (Wölln), nodding fat, snotty nail fat, gossipy, bung, stiff, starry-eyed, tight, drunk to the gills, drunk, full (up to the gills, like a bucket, like a hydrant), vinous, zach and zua.

In the following, we will now report on famous people who have "distinguished themselves" through excessive alcohol consumption and on unusual and bizarre incidents. The most famous alcohol prohibitions are also mentioned, through which attempts have been made again and again to curb alcohol abuse in the population. These are in chronological order from antiquity to modern times:

Intoxication as ceremonial

In some ancient cultures, intoxication was considered a cleansing ceremony with psycho-hygienic effects. Under the Achaimenid dynasty (559-331 B.C.) of the Persians, intoxication was deliberately used to discuss and then decide on important issues. They wanted to eliminate reason, promote creativity and discuss the pros and cons in a casual manner. The intoxication served to disinhibit. However, the decisions made were then subjected to a critical examination in a sober state. In many religions, wine in particular was a sacred medium with which a mystical relationship to God or gods was established. In the Bible, wine is a frequent theme and plays a central role in the Eucharist.

Drinking binge (Commisatio) in ancient Rome

The Roman poet Gajus Petronius (+66 A.D.) wrote the fragmented novel "Satyricon". In it a moral image of the old Rome in the 1st century is described. One of the episodes became famous under "Cena Trimalchionis". In it, a sumptuous feast of an immensely rich wine merchant is told, with the typical dishes, drinks and table manners of the upper class of the early imperial period. Such a meal (Cena) was usually followed by a "Comissatio". This was a boisterous drinking binge that could last until dawn and often ended with a frenzy of most of those present.

Alcohol prohibition in Islam

An absolute ban on the consumption of alcoholic beverages was decided by the founder of the religion Mohammed (570/573-632) and consistently implemented. In contrast to other countries and cultures, this is the ban that has long been in force and is still valid today. In Islam, the consumption of alcohol is, along with adultery, fornication, slander, grand theft and murder, one of the capital crimes and this may even apply to the taking of medicines dissolved in alcohol substances. See in detail under prohibition of alcohol.

Drink in

This ritual is considered one of the oldest drinking customs of mankind. It was often accompanied by alcohol abuse. In the Middle Ages it was therefore forbidden in many countries. Especially from the church side, but also humanists preached against the "devil alcohol". Martin Luther (1483-1546) spoke of the "devilish habit of excessive drinking". In Austria (Vienna), the clergymen Abraham a Sancta Clara (1644-1709) and Johann Rasch (1540-1612) fought against the excessive consumption of alcohol with his treatise "Der Sauffnarr". It is still cultivated today in student fraternities. By dedicating the drink, the "drinker" thereby honours a deceased or living person.

Execution by drowning in the Madeira barrel

In 1478 George Plantaganet became Duke of Clarence (1449-1478), brother of the English King Edward IV. (1442-1483), was sentenced to death for conspiracy, greed and violence. He was given the choice of execution and he allegedly decided to die by drowning in a barrel filled with Malmsey (sweet Madeira) in the Tower. However, the "drowning" may refer to the fact that he was a heavy drinker. In any case, George Plantaganet was not killed with the beheading method customary for nobles, as evidenced by a later exhumation.

Drinking-related electoral princes

From the 13th to the middle of the 18th century Heidelberg was the seat of the Palatines of the Rhine. The cellar stored 700,000 litres of wine for the hard-drinking castle dwellers. A wine pipeline led from the cellar to the royal banqueting hall with room for 500 guests, the wine was pumped up through a hand pump. During festivities, around 2,000 litres of wine were needed per day. A diary entry of the hard-drinking Elector Frederick IV of the Palatinate (1574-1610) from 9 July 1598 lives on in a drinking song: Furiously rolling around in bed, Elector Frederick of the Palatinate, against all etiquette, he shouted at the top of his lungs: "How did I get into the nest yesterday? It seems I was fully recovered. He drank himself to death and died at the age of 36. One of the later Counts Palatine was Charles III Philipp of the Palatinate (1661-1742), who had a court jester named Perkeo. This jester allegedly drank up to 30 liters of liquid per day, including masses of wine, due to an illness.

Viennese boozer

The inhabitants of Vienna (Austria) have always been a joyful and sensual people and fully occupied Heurigen restaurants prove that this is still valid today. In the 15th century it was customary to enjoy considerable quantities of wine in the morning. This also applied to women and the very famous Viennese doctor Heinrich von Neustadt complained that Viennese women were addicted to drinking in the early morning and did even worse than men. The Viennese were also fond of other physical pleasures and some contemporaries complained of "gluttony and gluttony".

According to a document, 17 buckets of wine per head and year were allegedly drunk in medieval Vienna. However, the exact volume of the unit of measurement is not known (one bucket = 30 to 75 l). It must also be mentioned that wine was often diluted with water. In any case, the clergyman Johann Rasch (1540-1612) condemned excessive consumption of alcohol in his book in the chapter "Weinsucht - von der argen Sucht der Trunckenheit". At that time the ancient custom of drinking was forbidden in many countries. The famous preacher Abraham a Sancta Clara (1644-1709) also railed insistently from the church pulpit against the bad custom of "drinking". He wrote the epistle "The drunkard" about drunkenness and alcoholism:

O drunkenness, thou heavy addiction, brings many a man to great fornication.
...of honour and property, of mockery and disgrace, of wife and child to foreign lands.
From art and wisdom to great folly, from a sound body to great disease.
From joy and gladness to vale of tears, from food and drink to anguish.
From peace and quiet in fear and need, from long life to death.
From the kingdom of God into eternal suffering, all this comes from drunkenness.
Think of your last hour, so you will not get drunk.
No jester's cuffs are perceived as being performed by the drunken fool,
so that tomorrow the whole parish will discuss it.
That's rare - it's true - my drunken fool!

Balladeer Dear Augustine

A legendary and drunken balladeer, bagpiper and impromptu poet from Vienna, who fell into a plague pit while drunk, slept off his intoxication and survived. Similar stories are also told from Cologne and London. See Dear Augustin.

Prohibition in the USA

In the fight against alcohol abuse, the USA introduced a ban on the sale, production, import and transport of alcoholic beverages (but not for consumption in and of itself), which remained in force from 1920 to 1933. This measure is a significant example of a positive but ultimately failed attempt to change the behaviour of a nation through bans. It was defined that all beverages with more than 0.5% alcohol content were considered "intoxicating beverages" or alcohol. This meant that beer was of course also affected in addition to schnapps and wine. An illegal business for production and distribution developed and thus a strongly increasing crime rate. As a consequence, also in the USA there was a total decline of viticulture for several decades and many wineries went bankrupt. The negative social and economic effects were enormous; see Prohibition.

Prohibition USA 1920-1933 - Vernichtung Bierfässer und Slogan „bleib nüchtern“

Alcohol as a stimulant

Among artists and writers, the consumption of alcohol was and is often used as a stimulating, uplifting means to fire the imagination. Examples are the writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), who is considered the first author of crime novels, and the painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). The US author Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940), who became known above all for his novel "The Great Gatsby" and was himself an excessive drinker, said: "Drinking is the vice of the writer". And even the "master of horror" Stephen King (*1947) openly admits to having been a severe alcoholic for a while. The German poet prince J. W. von Goethe (1749-1832), on the other hand, was an excellent wine connoisseur with an extensive wine cellar and enjoyed one or two bottles of wine almost daily throughout his life, but was not a drinker.

Guinness Drinking Record

The absolute record of excessive drinking in modern times is held by the Spaniard Dionsio Sanchez. In 1955 he drank an incredible 40 pints (18.9 litres) of wine in just 59 minutes, which earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. It is not known how he survived this or if he survived it.

Excessive drinking (binge drinking)

In the 1990s, the unculture of excessive drinking, known as binge drinking (binge), first emerged among young people in England as a kind of competition. Especially at the weekend, alcohol is consumed "until you drop" or until you get drunk. In German-speaking countries this is also known as "Kampftrinken", "Rauschtrinken", Wetttrinken" or "Komatrinken/saufen". By the way, the latter was voted the un-word of the year 2007 in Austria. As a consequence of this self-destructive alcohol abuse, the risk of alcohol-related accidents, acts of violence, suicides and illnesses increases

Favourite wines of celebrities and celebrity wineries

Many rulers, artists, actors, sportsmen, politicians, writers and other famous personalities were wine lovers and are described with their preferences in the objective wine lexicon. These include, among many others, the Egyptian pharaoh Tut-Ench-Amun (around 1350 BC), the composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), the US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and the Austrian ruler Maria Theresa. A fad is that many celebrities, especially from the show business, buy a winery.

Rausch - Lieblingsweine von Tut-ench-Amun, Ludwig van Beethoven, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, Maria Theresia

in-depth information

Under the keyword customs in viticulture a list of relevant keywords in connection with rituals, festivals and customs "around wine" is included. See also under drinking culture.

Cuff and glass: from Лечение наркомании on Pixabay
drunk man: from Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay
Cartoon: By Nathaniel Currier, Public Domain, Link
Prohibition USA: Authentic History

The world's largest Lexikon of wine terms.

23.145 Keywords · 48.178 Synonyms · 5.311 Translations · 28.459 Pronunciations · 156.084 Cross-references
made with by our Experts. About the Lexicon


Cookies facilitate the provision of our services. By using our services, you agree that we use cookies.