Cups, to be in one’s

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12 comments on this post.
  1. Kenneth Dean:

    Flavius Josephus back about 90 A.D. or CE in his works The Jews War used the phrase “in their cups” many times. So, this phrase is much older than King James Bible of 1607.
    Blessings, Kenneth Dean, Carrollton, GA

  2. Roger:

    Kenneth, as an occasional (bad) translator, I’m just curious. Is this a literal representation from the Latin, or perhaps a later English translation? Sometimes translators bring idiomatic expressions into the target language with an equivalent, rather than literal (i.e. possibly not understandable) rendering. If not in the Latin, we’d need to determine the date of the translation, but I defer to your assessment.
    Thanks and regards, Roger in Moscow.

  3. Robert:

    I’ve always thought the phrase connoted a certain sense of emotionalism brought on by intoxication, whether bellicose anger, maudlin sentimentality, or melancholy reverie.

  4. Paddy B:

    I was told by a friend that he came across it in a Shakespearian play, but I can’t recall which play. I have been trying to find the reference without any results. That is why I made the inquiry on this site.

  5. james m:


    I think you were “in your cups” when you wrote your absurd comment.

  6. Fatty:

    Yeah, this phrase is in William Henry is a fine name

  7. Steve Forbes:

    To reply to Roger’s reply to Kenneth re: Josephus. The book The Jewish War (not The Jews War) was written in Greek, not in Latin. Greek was the common language of that day much as English is today. A Roman and a Jew typically couldn’t speak to each other in their native tongues (Latin and Hebrew/Aramaic, respectively), so they had to use the language spread abroad by Alexander the Great- Greek (specifically koiné Greek). Which adds nothing to our understanding of the origin of the phrase ‘in his cups’.

  8. Alan Striegel:



    by William Shakespeare

    ACT IV.
    Another part of the field

    FLUELLEN. It is not well done, mark you now, to take the tales out of my mouth ere it is made and finished. I speak but in the figures and comparisons of it; as Alexander kill’d his friend Cleitus, being in his ales and his cups, so also Harry Monmouth, being in his right wits and his good judgments, turn’d away the fat knight with the great belly doublet; he was full of jests, and gipes, and knaveries, and mocks; I have forgot his name.

  9. Mozartsbum:

    The perennial Intellectually amusing wit Barry Humphries recently reminds us that what might be the most offensive rhyming slang for intoxication is the apology, “Sorry mate, I’m a bit Schindlers”.

  10. John De Lamontiagne:

    I’m partial to the word blotto.

  11. Just me:

    Thanks, I learned a new word today.

  12. John Fuller:

    I got all through college without hearing the term “sh*tfaced.” And then I guessed the meaning only from the context.

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