• tope •
towp (not [tahp]) • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: To tipple, booze, carouse, drink alcoholic beverages or drink heavily.
Notes: The latest sightings of today's (still) Good Word all come from 'Merry Old': from Scotland, southern, western, and northern England. Charles Kingsley used it in his novel Westward, Ho! Most Americans will be unfamiliar with it, but it is alive and well, and holding its own in the UK. Tope is not to be confused with the color taupe despite their identical pronunciations. A hard drinker is a toper who indulges in toping.
In Play: The implication of this verb is heavy drinking over an extended period: "Miles Overland is off on another toping tour of the French wine country." It is also used as a general term for tippling: "Reggie, go down to the pub and bring your dad home; he's toped enough for one night."
Word History: There are two lines of thought as to the origin of today's Good Word. One school derives it from the Old French word toper "to accept a bet", which went on to become an interjection meaning something like "Done deal!" used when an agreement is reached. This interjection later was used in toasting and from there it became a verb meaning "to tipple". The other school derives the verb from the naval term, to top (a mast), meaning to lean, tip over, or topple, which had become tope by the mid-17th century. This led to the sense of "tip a glass". The latter hypothesis is the simpler and more straightforward and hence the more likely. (We are grateful to Iain Smallwood of Southampton for toping enough to discover today's Good Word and reacquaint his North American cousins with it.)
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