Language is a funny old thing. We take it for granted most of the time, but it’s incredible to think that countless people have come to almost the same understanding of what some randomly ordered letters refer to. It’s even stranger when you start looking at things like slang words, or words that were once on the tip of every tongue that no one even remembers anymore. Some of these words need to be brought back. Others need to be forgotten…


Some words are fun to say, and zozzled is one of them. It’s a friendly, fuzzy-sounding sort of word, and according to writer Sarah Zama, it was just one of the ways Prohibition-era people described someone as being drunk.
She says it’s likely a variation of the 1880s word sozzled, which is also fun and has also fallen out of popular use. It’s a particular kind of drunk, and you can use it to say things like, “Buster was so zozzled he didn’t even realize he sat down in someone else’s spilled drink, and fell asleep anyway.” It’s a messy, careless kind of sloppy drunk, and we all know those people.
Zama says there were a ton of words used to describe the state of drunkenness in the 1920s, and some (like plastered and tanked) have stayed in common parlance. Others haven’t, like blotto, stinko, spifflicated, ossified, and embalmed. With some of the horrible stuff happening during Prohibition, that last one was occasionally more accurate than you’d think.
by Debra Kelly
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