8 Foreign Words for Describing Just How Drunk You Are

The Germans and Russians may not know much, but they know how to drink
8 Foreign Words for Describing Just How Drunk You Are

Today is the day when heavy drinking is acceptable. It’s the day when heavy drinking is traditional. You might even say heavy drinking is required. We are referring, of course, to how today is Sunday. 

It’s also New Year’s Eve. We don’t know if you have anything especially crazy set in stone, but if your plans are fluid, you may find yourself unable to speak articulate English come midnight. That’s no problem. In fact, when it comes to drunken dialogue, you may find that other languages offer just the words you need. 

Недоперепил, Russian

Thom Masat

Sometimes, people drink too much, and we need a simple way to say that. In English we have the word “overdrink” — but now that we think of it, people hardly ever use that word. They’re far more likely to say the same thing using three words, “drink too much.” In Russia, the word for this is Перепить

But drinking too much presupposes an agreed-upon optimal level of drinking. Saying someone has drunk too much is in fact a euphemism for saying they’re drunk or are habitually drunk. It might not be more alcohol than they intended. It may even be less alcohol than they intended. In Russia, they therefore have the very useful word Недоперепил.

This informal word means that you’ve drunk too much (i.e., more than you can handle) but have still not drunk as much as you’d like. When a friend is lying on the floor, and you’re watching close to make sure they don’t choke on the next bit of vomit, but they’re still trying to reach for the vodka bottle when you’re distracted, you’re witnessing a case of Недоперепил

Kalsarikänni, Finnish

Finland Promotion Board

Some people like clubbing or going to parties, but they have no monopoly on the joys of alcohol. Sometimes, you just want to get drunk at home. Sometimes, you don’t want to get dressed, and sometimes, you specifically want to get undressed. Thus we have the Finnish concept of kalsarikänni, or “pants drunk.” It refers to getting drunk at home, in your underwear.

To illustrate this concept, you’ll notice that we inserted some simple line art. That’s not just any art, though. Those are emojis officially created and released by the Finnish government, to use kalsarikänni to represent Finnish culture. Kalsarikänni is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a matter of national pride. 

Schnapsidee, German

Nemracc/Wiki Commons

Some things make more sense when you’re drunk. If you’ve been expelled from a hotel ballroom for rowdy behavior, suddenly, it sounds like a good idea to break back into the building, via a stranger’s hotel room. You can’t reach the balcony from down on the floor, but you figure you might be able to jump up and catch it, if you can only get your hands on a laundry cart. Clearly, you must enlist the help of the first maid you see, no matter how fast she is fleeing from you. 

Once you’re sober, you’ll know how absurd this all was. At that point, you’ll be able to dismiss such behavior as what the Germans call a Schnapsidee, or a “liquor idea.” Plus, anytime you hear someone propose an idea that sounds dumb, you can insult and dismiss it by calling it a Schnapsidee.

Kacówka, Polish

jez s/Wiki Commons

The day after drinking, we sometimes experience loose bowel movements. This seems to mirror the way we vomit after overindulging, but it does not serve the same purpose. Your body is not purging itself of alcohol by opening the floodgates. Instead, this appears to be a useless side effect of alcohol inhibiting your large intestine from absorbing water from your bowels. Alcohol also affects how the muscles around your intestines squeeze stuff around.

We have no official word for this condition. Informally, we call it the beer shits, but other beverages hit you worse in this way than beer. In Polish, some call it kacówka. Conveniently, this word sounds like caca. 

Fylleangst, Norwegian

Edvard Munch 

When you feel bad physically after a night of drinking, we obviously call that a hangover. But what about how bad you feel emotionally? How about all the regret you feel for the actions you got up to, for all those wild Schnapsidees?

In Finland, they have the concept of mokkis, the moral hangover. In nearby Norway, they call it fylleangst, or drunk anxiety. This is shame for what you did last night, without necessarily having any memory of exactly what that thing was. When you see people the next day and aren’t sure if you ran into them last night, and if you did, you don’t know what they may have seen, you’ve experiencing fylleangst. We’d call it paranoia, but we can’t call you paranoid if the fear is rational. 

Zapoi, Russian

Gennady Grachev

If you get drunk on New Year’s and you make it back into work on Jan 2nd, congratulations, you’ve got your life together. In Russia, the festivities don’t wrap up so quickly. They celebrate Christmas a week later (that’s the Russian Orthodox date), and have a couple additional holidays around Christmas. Some people take a whole two weeks off, not to go on some ambitious vacation but just to retreat into a drunken binge

They call that diving into a zapoi. Not just when it happens at New Year’s — anytime you spend multiple days drunk, without any sober break peeking through, that’s zapoi. However, some people may be conquering this trend. Researchers note that some drinkers in Russia are able to stay sober for up to three days a week

Wegbier, German

Infrogmation/Wiki Commons

“One for the road!” you yell, before you leave a bar. What you mean is that you’re going to have one last drink before hitting the road (hopefully hitting the road via the backseat of a car some sober person is driving). You aren’t actually going to take the drink with you out on the road. That wouldn’t be a good idea at all. The bar would have to charge you for the glass.

But in Germany, you have the concept of taking a drink out with you when you leave. It’s called Wegbier, or a drink you take with you while you’re commuting. You’ll be commuting on foot — this is a tradition about drinking while walking, not while driving. Still, walking with an open container remains illegal in many parts of the world, for reasons that baffle Germans. “You guys sound like you’re a bunch of Nazis,” they tell us. 

자리끼, Korean

Haley Truong

Your night of drinking is done, and you made it to bed. Now, you just want to surrender to unconsciousness. But if you submit right now, you’ll suffer a hangover tomorrow, and we’re not talking about the moral kind. You need to counter the dehydration that alcohol will force into your body overnight. Chug as much water as you can. If this makes you wake up to pee in a few hours, all the better. When you walk back from the bathroom, stop at the kitchen and drink more.

But what if the kitchen feels too far? The solution is 자리끼, or jarikki. This is water that you keep at your bedside to sip on when you awaken. Very prudent. In fact, you might want to set up some jarikki every night, whether you’ve been drinking or not. If you’re not a fan of room temperature water, consider getting a minifridge and placing it right by the bed. Maybe you can store a couple beers in there, too. 

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