Three Sheets to the Wind

This common expression for being highly inebriated comes to us from English naval terminology in the 18 – 19th C. when ‘three sheets in the wind’ referred to the erratic behavior of a ship that had lost control of its sails. In nautical terminology, “sheets” are the ropes that adjust the sails relative to the wind. Losing control of the sheets (ropes) during a strong wind would lead to a wildly out of control sail of which it would be extremely difficult to regain control. This lack of control is compared to that of person in a state of drunkenness.

About Tom Virden


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