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Thread: drunk & drunken

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    Default drunk & drunken

    I'm curious if drunk and drunken have the same usages in referring to events or situations relating to drunkeness? For example, which is correct, 'drunk driving' or 'drunken driving'? 'drunk drivers' or 'drunken drivers'? Or both will do?
    Thank you!

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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    From http://www.dictionary.reference.com/

    Usage Note: As an adjective the form drunk is used after a verb while the form drunken is now used only in front of a noun: They were drunk last night. A drunken patron at the restaurant ruined our evening. Using drunk in front of a noun is usually considered unacceptable in formal style, but the phrases drunk driver and drunk driving, which have become fixed expressions, present an exception to this. Drunk and drunken are sometimes used to make a legal distinction, whereby a drunk driver is a driver whose alcohol level exceeds the legal limit, and a drunken driver is a driver who is inebriated.

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    Steven D's Avatar
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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    From http://www.dictionary.reference.com/

    Usage Note: . Drunk and drunken are sometimes used to make a legal distinction, whereby a drunk driver is a driver whose alcohol level exceeds the legal limit, and a drunken driver is a driver who is inebriated.

    In all seriousness, I would say that's a distinction hardly worth considering.



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    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    I think it is- the limit in the UK is 80 mgs per litre, about two drinks. I could have two drinks and be over the legal limit, but not be inebriated. The driver who's slightly over the limit is breaking the law, ut the driver who can't walk is in a different class, IMO.

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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I think it is- the limit in the UK is 80 mgs per litre, about two drinks. I could have two drinks and be over the legal limit, but not be inebriated. The driver who's slightly over the limit is breaking the law, ut the driver who can't walk is in a different class, IMO.

    Usage Note: . Drunk and drunken are sometimes used to make a legal distinction, whereby a drunk driver is a driver whose alcohol level exceeds the legal limit, and a drunken driver is a driver who is inebriated.

    I would like to see neither a drunken driver behind the wheel nor an inebriated driver behind the wheel.

    I can't see the distinction, especially where driving is concerned. It may be a legal distinction, but I would not call it a practical one based on the definitions of these two words.

    http://www.answers.com/inebriated


    http://www.answers.com/drunken

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    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    I would like to see neither a drunken driver behind the wheel nor an inebriated driver behind the wheel.
    Neither would I, but I think that if I had to choose, I'd go for the lesser of two evils.

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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    From http://www.dictionary.reference.com/

    Usage Note: Drunk and drunken are sometimes used to make a legal distinction, whereby a drunk driver is a driver whose alcohol level exceeds the legal limit, and a drunken driver is a driver who is inebriated.

    I should still like to say, however, that I do not find this to be a genuine distinction.


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    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    It appears that a good many others do though. I for one am with Tdol.

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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    Quote Originally Posted by Red5
    It appears that a good many others do though. I for one am with Tdol.

    I understand what "others" think here, but it's not what I think.

    If one is inebriated, one should not drive. If one is drunken, one should also not drive.

    One could have a couple drinks and be neither drunken nor inebrieated when it comes time to get behind the wheel later in the evening.

    http://www.answers.com/inebriated


    http://www.answers.com/drunken

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    Default Re: drunk & drunken

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    I understand what "others" think here, but it's not what I think.
    It's not just here at this forum, as you can see from this very discussion - the American Heritage Dictionary states it in their usage note (see above).

    Obviously some very influential people also believe this distinction. What's more, it's a distinction serious enough to be reconised in law, so I'd imagine that it's one worth taking in to consideration at the very least.

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