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Hangover, Hung Over - where did it originate? by John F. Wake

13 Sep 2019

HANGOVER HUNG OVER, whatever way we say it we know exactly what it means. A long night on the alcohol and a thick head in the morning. But where does it come from? There are various schools of thought but the most obvious is the correct one. Some of the old hostels for homeless men had major problems with drunks, vagrants with severe alcohol problems. They used to turn up virtually comatosed and not in control. This was a very dangerous situation, as any old time copper will tell you, meths, scrumpy and beer drinkers were liable in their sleep to be sick and die on their own vomit.

One way of avoiding this was to make sure a man was at regular intervals woken and turned. Another was to keep his head off the floor. This was achieved by the means of ropes, it also allowing extra space to put drunken and unconscious people. Hopelessly drunken men were hung over ropes.

The expression evolved 'had a hang over' meaning of course to be very drunk. It further evolved into having a hangover meaning the effects of the drunken night before, 'he was hung over'.


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