Liquor vs liqueur


Liquor is a synonym for alcohol, usually a fermented drink that has been distilled. Distillation is basically the process of taking a fermented liquid and purifying it which removes water and therefore makes the concentration of alcohol higher. In North America, hard liquor is a common synonym.

As a verb, to liquor something is to either coat it with oil or grease, or it can mean to drink enough alcohol to become drunk. The latter definition is usually used with the preposition up.

Liqueur is a liquor that is mixed with herbs and spices, usually to make the flavor sweeter.

There are caveats to these definitions. For example, there is a chocolate liquor and a chocolate liqueur. The liquor is a distillation of fermented cocoa beans. The liqueur is a alcoholic beverage which tastes like chocolate.


The friends were returning after enjoying liquor at a New Year bash when robbers decamped with valuables worth 40,000 from the duo. [Times of India]

Microbrewing has become a hopping business in Saskatchewan in the last few years, and local brewers say liquor laws need to be revised to keep it that way. [CBC]

Almost everyone agrees that brown liquors are the way to go, but beyond that, the consensus breaks down. [Huffington Post]

But once Deb and Chip are safely liquored up in their Caribbean beach hideaway, we are introduced to a thinly drawn hoard of supporting characters who, when they’re anything more than just names, are simple cardboard types. [Toronto Star]

Liquoring up a preview audience is a pretty good sign that a studio had less than complete faith in a film, though in this case maybe the drinks were just to calm our nerves. [The New York Times]

The festive liqueur, doled out in comically small glasses to a roomful of torpid relatives, is, like the party hat, the Brussels sprout and the soap-opera dust-up, a seasonal tradition in need of a reboot. [The Telegraph]

In the traditional liqueurs category, the judges were impressed by Giffard’s Menthe-Pastille, a mint liqueur that, with a nose of crushed Polos and a palate of After Eight centres, scored the only Master of the round. [Daily Mail]

7 thoughts on “Liquor vs liqueur”

  1. “The liqueur is a alcoholic beverage”? It strikes me as odd that a site about grammar would write this rather than “_an_ alcoholic beverage”… I presume there is a justification for this, and I would love to hear it!

      • Quite possibly so, but if that is the case, I am very disappointed in this site. I know I am pedantic and unnecessarily critical, but that should be in their job description; I demand credentials, if not satisfaction! After describing this complaint to my wife, she related the story of a humorous image she saw recently of a man (or a cat — she says she can not remember; whichever it was, it was wearing a business suit) in obvious distress captioned “Cancel all my appointments;someone on the internet is wrong!”

        • Someone on the Internet is wrong? That is humorous. I used upper case for Internet, because that and World Wide Web are preferred spellings by Chicago Manual of Style and others, including myself, but lower case is used by many. Actually, it goes to show that in some cases, there is no agreed upon right or wrong, which makes the cartoon (humorous image) even funnier.

          Even Wikipedia, the supposed fount (or font) of all knowledge, is known to contain far more incorrect information than one would like. Of course, many articles there are posted by people who are not experts on those subjects, but rather volunteers with poor credentials who attempt to make this an encyclopedia of all knowledge known on Earth – a rather formidable task!

          • The i/Internet isn’t wrong– reality is mutable.

            Regarding the definitions given: gin is a liquor mixed with herbs and spices, meaning it’s actually, by definition, a liqueur.

            Yeah. Right.

            @ Kip Marzeck: So you would take the academic Chicago Manual of Style over, say, the journalistic A.P. style book for the Internet?

            Me, too, for the most part, but without a good reason. Do you have one? If so, may I borrow it?

  2. “The friends were returning after enjoying liquor at a New Year bash when
    robbers decamped with valuables worth 40,000 from the duo.”

    The robbers decamped, making well away with their ill gotten goods. The friends did give chase, which fell afoul as the miscreants, devious and cunning in equal measure, did avail a taxi driver to cement their escape. Bereft as the taxi rounded a corner, too swift for them to follow, the friends’ sought the assistance of an officer of the law…

    Don’t mind me, olde words are as intoxicating to me as any good liquor


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