Also found in: Medical.
1. Disoriented, confused, or unable to concentrate as a result of one or more heavy blows to the head; suffering the effects of a concussion. Said especially of boxers. That boxer was punch-drunk after being knocked out in the ring—he couldn't even remember his name! You could tell the retired fighter was a bit punch-drunk after taking so many hits over the years.
2. Exhausted or fatigued to the point of disorientation or incoherent thought. I'm feeling a bit punch-drunk after studying for exams for two days straight. Of course he's punch-drunk—he's been driving for 12 hours straight!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Confused, dazed. This term comes from boxing, where it is applied to boxers who have sustained brain damage from repeatedly being hit in the head. As a result they may have tremors of the hands, a stumbling gait, hesitant speech, and similar signs of cerebral damage. The term was first so used about 1915 and soon afterward began to be applied to any person who seems dazed or confused owing to lack of sleep, disorientation, or other circumstances. In a 60 Minutes interview of President Barack Obama concerning the bad state of the world economy, host Steve Kroft said, “You are laughing about some of these problems. . . . Are you punch-drunk?” (March 24, 2009).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer