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under the influence

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Impaired functioning owing to alcohol consumption, as in He was accused of driving under the influence. This expression, from legal jargon, is short for under the influence of intoxicating liquor and implies that one is not completely drunk. Since it is nearly always applied to drivers suspected or so accused, it has given rise to the police acronym DUI, for “driving under the influence.” [Second half of 1800s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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