Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sip, Slurp, Gulp & Slug

Sip, Slurp, Gulp & Slug

As summer approaches, it’s likely we’ll all soon be enjoying some cool beverages. So, here’s to all that:

Sip comes from a Low German word, sippen, meaning to sip. It entered English as supan in the 1400s.

Gulp also entered the language in the 1400s & appears to be onomatopoeic, meaning to gush, pour forth, guzzle or swallow. Gulp most likely came from the Flemish word gulpe, which meant stream of water or large draught.

Slurp is most likely another onomatopoeic word. It came from the Dutch word slurpen & entered English in its verb form in the 1640s, but took until 1949 to become a noun.

Glug is also onomatopoeic & showed up in the language in 1768 from some unspecified source.

Slug was first recorded meaning take a drink in 1756. It may have come from the Irish word slog, to swallow, or from a colorful English idiom meaning to take a drink, to take a slug (as in to take a shot – gosh those English folks were funny).

In the 1540s, the noun swig meant a big or hearty drink of liquor. A century later, swig graduated into use as a verb.

By 1889, the idiom to take a snort entered English, meaning to have a drink of liquor, especially whiskey.

Whether you’re gulping, slurping, demurely sipping or letting down your hair & taking a snort, may your summertime liquid refreshments bring you joy.

Oh, & please leave a comment.

My thanks go out to this week’s sources the OED, Wordnik, & Etymonline,


  1. Such image inspiring words. I could see pirates and neer-do-wells and English gentlemen and teetotaler ladies all whetting their respective whistles with each definition. Thanks for the entertainment!

    1. Hey Christine,
      Thanks. I had some of the same pictures bouncing around in my brain as I wrote it.