While researching various levels of drunkenness, at the Online Etymology Dictionary site I found a statement that medieval folklore recognized four successive stages of it, in which drinkers resembled sheep, lion, ape, and sow: Origin and meaning of drunk by Online Etymology Dictionary.

Can anyone direct me to actual sources where these descriptions appear?

1 Answer 1


The original source seems to be ‘Pierce Penilesse, His Supplication to the Divell’ by Thomas Nashe, published in 1592.

Nor haue we one or two kinde of drunkards onely, but eight kindes. The first is Ape drunke, and he leapes, and sings, and hollowes, and daunceth for the heauens: the second is Lion drunke, and he flings the pots about the house, calls his Hostesse whore, breakes the glasse windowes with his dagger, and is apt to quarrel with any man that speaks to him: the third is Swine drunke, heauy, lumpish, and sleepie, and cries for a little more drinke, and a fewe more cloathes: the fourth is Sheepe drunke, wise in his owne conceipt, when he cannot bring foorth a right word, the fifth is Mawdlen drunke, when a fellowe will weepe for kindnes in the midst of his Ale, and kisse you, saying; by God Captaine I loue thee, goe thy waies thou dost not thinke so often of me as I do of thee, I would (if it pleased GOD) I could not loue thee so well as I doo, and then he puts his finger in his eie, and cries: the sixt is Martin drunke, when a man is drunke and drinkes himselfe sober ere he stirre: the seauenth is Goate drunke, when in his drunkennes he hath no minde but on Lechery: the eighth is Foxe drunke, when he is craftie drunke, as many of the Dutch men bee, will neuer bargaine but when they are drunke. All these Species and more I haue seene practised in one Company at one sitting, when I haue beene permitted to remaine sober amongst them, onely to note their seuerall humors. Hee that plies any one of them harde, it will make him to write admirable verses, to haue a deepe casting head, though hee were neuer so verie a Dunce

Merriam Webster states that:

A number of later writers were so fond of Nashe’s treatment of drunkards that they decided to flatter the satirist by stealing his idea. In 1652 the acronymic D. N. published The Figure of Six, an ostensibly humorous collection of things arranged in groups of six, in which he included “Six sorts of Drunkards,” most of which were simply lifted from Nashe (“a sowish Drunkard, a sheepish Drunkard, a loving Drunkard, a goat Drunkard an a pish Drunkard, and a Fox Drunkard”).

A writer named Martin Parker liked this so much that he wrote a book around the same time, titled The Figure of Seaven, in which similar things were (you guessed it!) placed in groups of seven. Parker’s drunks were also taken almost verbatim from Nashe’s list. Thomas Young, writing in 1617, was perhaps the first one to plagiarize this concept, although he added a 9th kind of drunk (bat drunk, which is the kind of drunk who “delights in secret places and flies by night: so they will drinke priuately, and chiefely in the night”).

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