Drown one’s sorrows

The idiom drown one’s sorrows came into use sometime in the 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom drown one’s sorrows, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To drown one’s sorrows means to become drunk on alcoholic beverages in order to forget one’s sadness, disappointment, or fear. This is not a good coping mechanism because once you are sober, the problem is still present. As a common joke asserts, “Your sorrows can swim.” The idiom drown one’s sorrows most often refers to the use of alcohol, but the expression is sometimes used comically to mean to gorge on chocolate or to indulge in something else to take one’s mind off one’s problems. Drown one’s sorrows has been in use since the 1800s, but became much more popular during the twentieth century. Related phrases are drowns one’s sorrows, drowned one’s sorrows, drowning one’s sorrows.


Alcohol is alcohol, and if you can calm your nerves or drown your sorrows with a lager or pale ale, shouldn’t you be allowed to down a bourbon, too? (The Morning Call)

If you are looking for something to lift your spirits or drown your sorrows, Georgetown Waterfront’s sophisticated, Italian, seafood staple is cutting down their offerings to the essentials—wine, cheese and desserts. (Washington Life Magazine)

If my efforts to get the Super Bowl fail I’m just going to watch golf or college hoops and drown my sorrows with several bowls of jambalaya. (The Lawton Constitution)

When he sent his friend to break up with me on the walk out of the elementary school one day, “Cold as You” allowed me to drown my sorrows. (The State News)

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