four sheets to the wind

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Derived from sailing ships. The 'sheet' in the phrase uses the nautical meaning of a rope that controls the trim of sail. If a sheet is loose, the sail flaps and doesn't provide control for the ship. Having several sheets loose ("to the wind") could cause the ship to rock about drunkenly.

Adjective[edit]

four sheets to the wind (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Extremely drunk
    • 1975 Tom Waits, "Spare Parts 1 (A Nocturnal Emission)," Nighthawks at the Diner, Asylum Records
      You see, it's a well known fact, you know / I'm four sheets to the wind, I'm glad you're gone
    • 2005 Richard LeVine, Awakening Waves: A True Adventure Story, Warm Wisdom Press, p133
      After a couple of hours many people were four sheets to the wind, having had a few too many drinks.
    • 2009 Linda Hamalian, The Cramoisy Queen: A Life of Caresse Crosby, SIU Press, p9
      He would flee the apartment when the baby fussed and cried, only to return much later four sheets to the wind.

Synonyms[edit]