And drink some more

Yesterday’s posting, which concluded with bib, spills over into today’s. From beber ‘to drink’ Spanish has made bebedor, an adjective referring to someone ‘who drinks,’ but typically ‘who drinks a lot or too much.’ The slightly longer adjective bebedero refers to a liquid that is ‘good to drink.’ As a noun, a bebedero can be ‘a dish that provides water for a bird in a cage or for other animals’; it’s also ‘a place where birds gather to drink water.’

Back in the realm of alcohol, a Latin adjective that meant ‘drinking readily’ was bibulus, which English has adopted as bibulous. The Romans also used bibulus metaphorically to mean ‘absorbing moisture,’ so English bibulous has the added sense ‘spongy, absorbent.’ English has turned the adjective into the verb bibble, which means ‘to drink’ or ‘to drink often,’ but also ‘to sip.’ The verb goes back at least to the 1400s, judging from the Chester Mystery Plays, where we find:

Nowe of this bottle will I bibble,
for here is but of the best,
such liquore makes men to lyve,
this game may no way be lost.

From bibble comes bibbler, just as bib has generated bibber: both mean ‘a drinker, tippler.’

Long before those coinages, Vulgar Latin turned the classical bibere into the verb *abbiberare, which, with the rearranging of a couple of consonants, has evolved to Spanish abrevar ‘to water [cattle].’ Spanish has taken over the related French breuvage (akin to the borrowed English beverage) as the negative brebaje, which is ‘a foul drink, a concoction.’

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman


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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.
©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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