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Perhaps from Steamboat Willie, rhyming slang for silly,[1] or perhaps from a stereotype of steamboat passengers getting drunk.


steamboats (not comparable)

  1. (UK, Ireland, slang) Drunk; intoxicated.
    • 2006, Kevin MacNeil, The Stornoway Way, Penguin UK (→ISBN):
      Joe and The Tongue especially are absolutely steamboats by the time we reach the Niccy, and the 'bouncers' – furtive damp chemistry teachers on an ego trip – turn us all sneeringly away in their clean-spitting accents:
    • 2010, MacCaig Morgan Lochhead, Three Scottish Poets, Canongate Books (→ISBN), page 96:
      Somebody absolutely steamboats he says on
      sweet warm wine
      swigged plaincover from a paper bag
      squats in a puddle with nothing to sell []
    • 2011, D. D. Johnston, Peace, Love and Petrol Bombs, AK Press (→ISBN), page 57:
      The truth is that nobody remembered; they had all been absolutely steamboats.
    • 2011, Colin MacFarlane, No Mean Glasgow: Revelations of a Gorbals Guy, Random House (→ISBN)
      After getting steamboats in the pub we would all head to the local fish-and-chip shop, where I would order a fish supper and a steak pie wrapped together. I would then place it on a wall and bash it with my fist so that pie, fish and chips all  ...
    • 2016, Jules Coll, Flabyrinth: A Journey from Losing Nine Stone to Finding Myself, Gill & Macmillan Ltd (→ISBN)
      By the weekend we were off it and out on the lash, living it up in the VIP section of Annabelle's nightclub and getting absolutely steamboats. There's only one thing better than a glass of Champagne – a bottle!



  1. plural of steamboat


  1. ^ Tom Dalzell, Terry Victor, The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2015)