Printable Version
Pronunciation: i-nee-bri-ayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To intoxicate, cause to be drunk. 2. To stupefy, stun, besot, confuse. 3. To exhilarate, excite, thrill.

Notes: English has an adjective spelled the same way as this verb, but pronounced differently: [i-nee-bri-it]. Whash-a-matta wid youse guys?It means "intoxicated, drunk". It can also be used as a noun referring to an intoxicated person. Today's word comes with two nouns, inebriation (preferable) and inebriety (possible). The adjective inebriative "intoxicating" is a rarity seldom encountered.

In Play: This word's basic meaning is "to alcoholically intoxicate": You can get any information you want out of Harvey Wallbanger if you just inebriate him first." As often, though, this word is used metaphorically: "Myna Bird prattled on for hours, inebriated by the exuberance of her own verbosity."

Word History: The source of today's word is Latin inebriare "to intoxicate", which English borrowed from Latin's child, French. This word was based on the adjective ebrius "drunk", so the prefix means "in(to)", not "un-". Latin inherited this word from a little used PIE word, egwh- "to drink", believe it or not. English sober came from a word in the same language, sobrius "sober", which once was made up apparently of swe "self" + ebrius "drunk". The original meaning of this word is lost to the world. An interesting term that came directly to English through its Germanic ancestors is ryegrass. In Middle English it was raygrass, the apparent source of ray being Old French ivraie "drunk", from the results of ingesting the plant. (Thanks for today's Good Word is owed Chris Stewart, our old friend from South Africa, whose voracious reading should allow him little time for inebriation.)

Dr. Goodword,

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