Nothing moderate about booze

As Christmas approaches we will be looking forward to the seasonal feasts of rich food washed down with our favourite booze. On Christmas day we are likely to be very mellow by the end of the day, perhaps having anaesthetised ourselves against the stress of getting on with our family.

So in honour of the alcoholic component of our Christmas season I thought in worthwhile to look at the word booze. Booze was originally a verb, meaning to drink a lot (from 1768). It is a variant of the Middle English word bouse (from about 1300). It originates from Middle Dutch busen meaning to drink heavily or to excess and is related to Middle High German bus meaning to swell, to inflate.

Booze is also a noun for an alcoholic drink. As a noun it was reinforced, coincidentally, by sharing its name with a Philadelphia distiller E.G. Booz in the mid 19th century. E.G. Booz made whiskey that was sold in a  distinctive cabin-shaped bottle. The bottle is very collectable and often counterfeited.

Dr Johnson’s dictionary lists a word, rambooze, described as a drink made of wine, ale, eggs and sugar to be drunk in the winter; or made of wine, milk, sugar and rose-water for the summer.

Incidentally, there is a little village in England called Booze situated in the Yorkshire Dales (my father was a vet nearby in the 1950s). The village became the centre of controversy about a decade ago for having The Royal Mail declaring the roads to be too steep for their postmen to safely deliver the mail. The villagers had to pick their mail up from Richmond the nearest town.

Ironically, Booze does not have a pub nor does its name have anything to do with alcohol, instead being merely a modernisation of the old English bowehouse, which means, a house on the curve of a hill.

Enjoy your Christmas booze with as much or little moderation as you please.