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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English drench, drenche (beverage, drink; cup of drink, specifically a poisoned drink; medicinal potion, specifically an emetic (?)) [and other forms],[1] from Old English drenċ (drink; draft, potion; dose (of medicine, poison, etc.)), from Proto-West Germanic *dranki, from Proto-Germanic *drankiz (drink; potion; dose), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *dʰrenǵ- (to draw, pull; to gulp; to sip).[2] Doublet of drink (noun).


drench (plural drenches)

  1. (archaic, also figurative) A dose or draught of liquid medicine (especially one causing sleepiness) taken by a person; specifically, a (large) dose, or one forced or poured down the throat.
    • 1641, John Milton, “Sect. 2”, in Animadversions upon the Remonstrants Defence against Smectymnuus; republished in A Complete Collection of the Historical, Political, and Miscellaneous Works of John Milton, [], volume I, Amsterdam [actually London: s.n.], 1698, →OCLC, page 147:
      [T]hey need not carry ſuch an unvvorthy ſuſpicion over the Preacher of God's vvord, as to tutor their unſoundneſſe vvith the Abcie of a Liturgy, or to diet their ignorance, and vvant of care, vvith the limited draught of a Mattin, and even ſong drench.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book II”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 73–77:
      Let ſuch bethink them, if the ſleepy drench / Of that forgetful Lake benumme not ſtill, / That in our proper motion we aſcend / Up to our native ſeat: deſcent and fall / To us is adverſe.
    • 1860, Richard F[rancis] Burton, “We Return to Unyanyembe”, in The Lake Regions of Central Africa: A Picture of Exploration [], volume II, London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, →OCLC, page 182:
      Corpulence is a beauty: girls are fattened to a vast bulk by drenches of curds and cream thickened with flour, and are duly disciplined when they refuse.
    • 1868, Robert Browning, “II. Half-Rome.”, in The Ring and the Book. [], volume I, London: Smith, Elder and Co., →OCLC, page 124, lines 952–954:
      Guido heard all, swore the befitting oaths, / Shook off the relics of his poison-drench, / Got horse, was fairly started in pursuit []
    • 1899 October, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter III, in Christian Science [], New York, N.Y., London: Harper & Brothers, published February 1907, →OCLC, book I, page 28:
      He [the horse-doctor] made up a bucket of bran-mash, and said a dipperful of it every two hours, alternated with a drench with turpentine and axle-grease in it, would either knock my ailments out of men in twenty-four hours, or so interest me in other ways as to make me forget they were on the premises. [] I took up the Christian Science book and read half of it, then took a dipperful of drench and read the other half.
  2. (veterinary medicine) A dose or draught of liquid medicine administered to an animal.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

The verb is derived from Middle English drenchen, drench (to drown; to flood, inundate; to consume (drink or food); to give (someone) a drink; to poison (someone) with a drink; to immerse, soak, drench; to descend, fall, sink; to penetrate, permeate; (figurative) to engulf, overwhelm) [and other forms],[3] from Old English drenċan (to give (someone) a drink; to immerse, soak, drench), from Proto-West Germanic *drankijan, from Proto-Germanic *drankijaną (to cause (someone) to drink), the causative of *drinkaną (to drink), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *dʰrenǵ- (to draw, pull; to gulp; to sip).[4] Doublet of drink (verb).

The noun is derived from the verb (sense 1.2).


drench (third-person singular simple present drenches, present participle drenching, simple past and past participle drenched)

  1. (transitive)
    1. To cause (someone) to drink; to provide (someone) with a drink.
      Coordinate term: feed
      1. (specifically, veterinary medicine) To administer a dose or draught of liquid medicine to (an animal), often by force.
    2. To make (someone or something) completely wet by having water or some other liquid fall or thrown on them or it; to saturate, to soak; also (archaic), to make (someone or something) completely wet by immersing in water or some other liquid; to soak, to steep.
      Synonym: (archaic) bedrench
      • 1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i], page 6, column 2:
        That our Garments being (as they were) drencht in the Sea, hold notwithſtanding their freſhneſſe and gloſſes, being rather new dy'de then ſtain'd with ſalte water.
      • 1641 September 17 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Hall, “A Sermon Preacht in the Cathedral at Exceter, upon the Solemn Day Appointed for the Celebration of the Pacification betwixt the Two Kingdoms. Viz. Septemb. 7. 1641 [Julian calendar].”, in The Shaking of the Olive-Tree. The Remaining Works of that Incomparable Prelate Joseph Hall, D.D. [], London: [] J. Cadwel for J[ohn] Crooke, [], published 1660, →OCLC, page 53:
        Deſolations by vvarrs; hovv many fields have been drencht vvith blood, and compoſted vvith carcaſſes; hovv many Millions of men have been cut off in all ages by the edge of the ſvvord?
      • 1697, Virgil, “The Third Pastoral. Or, Palæmon.”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 16, lines 171–172:
        Novv dam the Ditches, and the Floods reſtrain: / Their moiſture has already drench'd the Plain.
      • 1697, Virgil, “The Third Book of the Georgics”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 116, lines 680–682:
        Good Shepherds after ſheering, drench their Sheep, / And their Flocks Father (forc'd from high to leap) / Svvims dovvn the Stream, and plunges in the Deep.
      • [1716], [John] Gay, “Book II. Of Walking the Streets by Day.”, in Trivia: Or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London, London: [] Bernard Lintott, [], →OCLC, page 46:
        I've ſeen a Beau, in ſome ill-fated hour, / VVhen o'er the Stones choak'd Kennels ſvvell the Shovv'r, / In gilded Chariot loll; he vvith Diſdain, / Vievvs ſpatter'd Paſſengers, all drench'd in Rain; []
      • 1719 March 18 (first performance; Gregorian calendar), Edward Young, Busiris, King of Egypt. A Tragedy. [], London: [] J[acob] Tonson, [], published 1719, →OCLC, Act V, page 61:
        I'll drench my Svvord in thy deteſted Blood, / Or ſoon make thee Immortal by my ovvn.
      • 1805, John Mason Good, “Book the First”, in Titus Lucretius Carus, translated by John Mason Good, The Nature of Things: A Didactic Poem. [], volume I, London: [] Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, [], →OCLC, footnote, page 59:
        Thou [God] visitest the earth, and waterest it; / Thou abundantly enrichest it / With the 'dewy' stream of God, replete with water. / Thou preparest, and fittest it for corn: / Thou drenchest its furrows; its clods thou dissolvest; / Thou mellowest it with showers; thou blessest its increase; []
        A version of Psalm 65:9–10 from the Bible.
      • 1808 February 22, Walter Scott, “Canto Sixth. The Battle.”, in Marmion; a Tale of Flodden Field, Edinburgh: [] J[ames] Ballantyne and Co. for Archibald Constable and Company, []; London: William Miller, and John Murray, →OCLC, stanza XXIX, page 359:
        With that, straight up the hill there rode / Two horsemen drenched with gore, / And in their arms, a helpless load, / A wounded knight they bore.
      • 1832 December (indicated as 1833), Alfred Tennyson, “A Dream of Fair Women”, in Poems, London: Edward Moxon, [], →OCLC, stanza XXV, page 128:
        I knew the flowers, I knew the leaves, I knew / The tearful glimmer of the languid dawn / On those long, rank, dark woodwalks drenched in dew, / Leading from lawn to lawn.
      • 1858 September 24, Alfred B[illings] Street, “Poem, Delivered on Laying the Corner-stone of the New York State Inebriate Asylum, at Binghamton, September 24, 1858”, in The Poems of Alfred B. Street. [], volume II, New York, N.Y.: Hurd and Houghton, [], published 1867, →OCLC, page 53:
        War! thy wild chariot rolls o'er piles of the slain, / Thou drenchest empires in thy crimson rain!
      • 1917, A. E. Semeonoff, H. J. W. Tillyard, “Notes: Pushkin”, in Russian Poetry Reader [], London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.; New York, N.Y.: E[dward] P[ayson] Dutton & Co., →OCLC, note 5, page 33:
        Thou re-echoedst a mysterious roar, and drenchedst the thirsty earth with rain.
        A translation of lines 7 and 8 of Alexander Pushkin’s poem “Ту́ча” (“The Cloud”).
    3. (obsolete) To drown (someone).
      Synonyms: (obsolete) endrench, (obsolete) indrench
    4. (obsolete, figurative) To overwhelm (someone); to drown, to engulf.
  2. (intransitive, obsolete) To be drowned; also, to be immersed in water.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]


drench (plural drenches)

  1. An act of making someone or something completely wet; a soak or soaking, a wetting.
  2. An amount of water or some other liquid that will make someone or something completely wet.


  1. ^ drench(e, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ Compare drench, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; drench, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ drenchen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ Compare drench, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023; drench, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]

Old English[edit]


drench m

  1. Alternative form of dreng

Further reading[edit]

  • Alexander M[ansfield] Burrill (1850–1851) “DRENCH”, in A New Law Dictionary and Glossary: [], volumes (please specify |part= or |volume=I or II), New York, N.Y.: John S. Voorhies, [], →OCLC.