Saturday, April 16, 2011

Willie & friends

Here's Willie and some buddies standing around drinking - look how happy ole Willie is.

But what's Willie saying this time...?

boots - a recruit, according to the Pacific War Naval Terms and Slang page.

brass bounders - according to the ever-handy Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang means "a midshipman; a premium apprentice"

bricklayers' clerks - Routledge again: A lubberly sailor. "Lubberly" meaning "a clumsy seaman" according to Merriam-Websters.

splicing the mainbrace - for some reason the ad separates main and brace - means according to Wikipedia: an order given aboard naval vessels to issue the crew with a drink. Originally an order for one of the most difficult emergency repair jobs aboard a sailing ship, it became a euphemism for authorized celebratory drinking afterward, and then the name of an order to grant the crew an extra ration of rum or grog."

They have a whole entry for this in Wiki including several photos.

The photo shows VJ Day celebrations aboard the Canadian ship HMCS Price Robert.

Since this Willie ad is from July 7, 1945, I expect it commemorates VE Day.

And this time around while researching Willie slang I discovered what promises to be extremely useful - the Drunktionary.

Favorite drunk terms so far:

Got one's snowsuit on and heading north

Has seen the French king

Nimptopsical - Noted by Benjamin Franklin.

There are aLOT of entries on this thing that say "noted by Benjamin Franklin"

Oxycrocium - Pronounced ox-ee-CROCK-ee-um. Possibly from "oxycroceum," a plaster containing vinegar and saffron. If so, it may be an elaboration of "Plastered." Noted by Benjamin Franklin.

What'd I tell yah?

Queer in the attic – Refers to the bizarre behavior caused by drinking. "Attic" is British slang for the mind.

Screwed, blued and tattooed – Very drunk. From term for "badly cheated." Because targets for forcible enlistment in the navy were gotten drunk and carried off, and woke up in Shanghai (hence the verb "shanghai").

Sucked the monkey – In the lingo of sailors, the "monkey" was the cask that contained their liquor. To "suck the monkey" was to drink from this cask clandestinely with a straw through a small hole. Another method of sneaking a drink was to empty a coconut of its milk and refill it with booze. Today one can "suck the monkey" from any container. Dates from the 1800s. Cf. "Tapped the Admiral."

We've already seen a variation on this term ("bleed the monkey") used by Willie. The nautical world is second only to Benjamin Franklin as a source for drunk slang.

...speaking of which, the ever-popular...

Three sheets to the wind – Totally drunk. A "sheet" is a rope holding a sail in place. A "sheet in (or to) the wind" is such a rope that has come loose. To "have a sheet in the wind" is common nautical slang for to be drunk, so "three sheets in the wind" means very drunk indeed. Originally British, since the 1820s.