suitable or safe to drink: drinking water.
used in drinking: a drinking glass.
addicted to or indulging excessively in alcohol: Is he a drinking man?
of or relating to the act of drinking, especially the drinking of alcohol: a drinking companion.


habitual and excessive consumption of alcohol: His drinking caused him to lose his job.

Origin of drinking

Middle English word dating back to 1125–75; see origin at drink, -ing2, -ing1
Related formsun·drink·ing, adjective



verb (used without object), drank or (Nonstandard) drunk, drunk or, often, drank, drink·ing.

to take water or other liquid into the mouth and swallow it; imbibe.
to imbibe alcoholic drinks, especially habitually or to excess; tipple: He never drinks. They won't find jobs until they stop drinking.
to show one's respect, affection, or hopes with regard to a person, thing, or event by ceremoniously taking a swallow of wine or some other drink (often followed by to): They drank to his victory.
to be savored or enjoyed by drinking: a wine that will drink deliciously for many years.

verb (used with object), drank or (Nonstandard) drunk, drunk or, often, drank, drink·ing.

to take (a liquid) into the mouth and swallow.
to take in (a liquid) in any manner; absorb.
to take in through the senses, especially with eagerness and pleasure (often followed by in): He drank in the beauty of the scene.
to swallow the contents of (a cup, glass, etc.).
to propose or participate in a toast to (a person, thing, or event): to drink one's health.


any liquid that is swallowed to quench thirst, for nourishment, etc.; beverage.
liquor; alcohol.
excessive indulgence in alcohol: Drink was his downfall.
a swallow or draft of liquid; potion: She took a drink of water before she spoke.
Informal. a large body of water, as a lake, ocean, river, etc. (usually preceded by the): His teammates threw him in the drink.

Origin of drink

before 900; Middle English drinken, Old English drincan; cognate with Dutch drinken, German trinken, Gothic drinkan, Old Norse drekka
Related formsout·drink, verb (used with object), out·drank or (Nonstandard) out·drunk; out·drunk or, often, out·drank; out·drink·ing.o·ver·drink, verb (used with object), o·ver·drank or (Nonstandard) o·ver·drunk; o·ver·drunk or, often, o·ver·drank; o·ver·drink·ing.

Synonyms for drink

2. tope. 5. quaff. 9. toast.

Synonym study

5. Drink, imbibe, sip refer to swallowing liquids. Drink is the general word: to drink coffee. Imbibe is formal in reference to actual drinking; it is used more often in the sense to absorb: to imbibe culture. Sip implies drinking little by little: to sip a cup of broth.

Usage note

As with many verbs of the pattern sing, sang, sung and ring, rang, rung, there is some confusion about the forms for the past tense and past participle of drink. The historical reason for this confusion is that originally verbs of this class in Old English had a past-tense singular form in a but a past-tense plural form in u. Generally the form in a has leveled out to become the standard past-tense form: We drank our coffee. However, the past-tense form in u, though considered nonstandard, occurs often in speech: We drunk our coffee.
The standard and most frequent form of the past participle of drink in both speech and writing is drunk : Who has drunk all the milk? However, perhaps because of the association of drunk with intoxication, drank is widely used as a past participle in speech by educated persons and must be considered an alternate standard form: The tourists had drank their fill of the scenery. See also drunk.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for drinking

Contemporary Examples of drinking

  • Before anti-vaxxers, there were anti-fluoriders: a group who spread fear about the anti-tooth decay agent added to drinking water.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Anti-Fluoriders Are The OG Anti-Vaxxers

    Michael Schulson

    July 27, 2016

  • Placed in drinking water, fluoride can serve people who otherwise have poor access to dental care.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Anti-Fluoriders Are The OG Anti-Vaxxers

    Michael Schulson

    July 27, 2016

  • Added to drinking water at concentrations of around one part per million, fluoride ions stick to dental plaque.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Anti-Fluoriders Are The OG Anti-Vaxxers

    Michael Schulson

    July 27, 2016

  • Nobody ever says they want to become a cop so they can bust people for urinating in public or drinking alcohol on their stoop.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Shot Down During the NYPD Slowdown

    Michael Daly

    January 7, 2015

  • The billionaire philanthropist tastes the product of a machine that processes human sewage into drinking water and electricity.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Bill Gates Drinks Sewer Water

    Jack Holmes, The Daily Beast Video

    January 7, 2015

Historical Examples of drinking

  • Malbone, greedy of emotion, was drinking to the dregs a passion that could have no to-morrow.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • She also saw that Dick was abnormally excited, and suspected that he had been drinking.


    William J. Locke

  • He was smoking his big briar and drinking a huge glass of brown beer.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • He had bit the heel of more than one man in his drinking bouts.

  • While she was drinking her second cup of tea her eyes kept roving.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for drinking


verb drinks, drinking, drank (dræŋk) or drunk (drʌŋk)

to swallow (a liquid); imbibe
(tr) to take in or soak up (liquid); absorbthis plant drinks a lot of water
(tr usually foll by in) to pay close attention (to); be fascinated (by)he drank in the speaker's every word
(tr) to bring (oneself into a certain condition) by consuming alcohol
(tr often foll by away) to dispose of or ruin by excessive expenditure on alcoholhe drank away his fortune
(intr) to consume alcohol, esp to excess
(when intr, foll by to) to drink (a toast) in celebration, honour, or hope (of)
drink someone under the table to be able to drink more intoxicating beverage than someone
drink the health of to salute or celebrate with a toast
drink with the flies Australian informal to drink alone


liquid suitable for drinking; any beverage
alcohol or its habitual or excessive consumption
a portion of liquid for drinking; draught
the drink informal the sea
Derived Formsdrinkable, adjective

Word Origin for drink

Old English drincan; related to Old Frisian drinka, Gothic drigkan, Old High German trinkan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for drinking

c.1200, drinkinge, verbal noun from drink (v.). Drinking problem "alcoholism" is from 1957; earlier was drinking habit (1899).



Old English drincan "to drink," also "to swallow up, engulf" (class III strong verb; past tense dranc, past participle druncen), from Proto-Germanic *drengkan (cf. Old Saxon drinkan, Old Frisian drinka, Dutch drinken, Old High German trinkan, German trinken, Old Norse drekka, Gothic drigkan "to drink"), of uncertain origin, perhaps from a root meaning "to draw." Not found outside Germanic.

Most Indo-European words for this trace to PIE *po(i)- (cf. Greek pino, Latin biber, Irish ibim, Old Church Slavonic piti, Russian pit'; see imbibe).

The noun meaning "beverage, alcoholic beverage" was in late Old English.

The noun, AS. drinc, would normally have given southern drinch (cf. drench), but has been influenced by the verb. [Weekley]

To drink like a fish is first recorded 1747.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with drinking


In addition to the idioms beginning with drink

  • drink like a fish
  • drink to

also see:

  • drive someone crazy (to drink)
  • into the drink
  • meat and drink to
  • nurse a drink
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.