three sheets in the wind


Also found in: Dictionary.

three sheets in the wind

slang Extremely drunk, especially to the point of being uncoordinated or out of control. Most likely derived from nautical terminology, in which a "sheet" is the rope that controls the sails of a tall ship; if several sheets are loose or mishandled, the boat's movement becomes unsteady and difficult to control, like that of a drunk person. On his 21st birthday, Jeff's friends took him to every bar in town until he was three sheets in the wind. They had an open bar at the staff party, so we were all three sheets in the wind by the time we left.
See also: sheet, three, wind
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

three sheets in the wind

 and three sheets (to the wind); two sheets to the wind
Inf. intoxicated and unsteady. (Sheets are the ropes used to manage a ship's sails. It is assumed that if these ropes were blowing in the wind, the ship would be out of control.) He had gotten three sheets to the wind and didn't pay attention to my warning. By midnight, he was three sheets.
See also: sheet, three, wind
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

three sheets in the wind

and three sheets (to the wind) and two sheets to the wind
mod. alcohol intoxicated and unsteady. (Sheets are the ropes used to manage a ship’s sails. It is assumed that if these ropes were blowing in the wind, the ship would be unmanageable.) He was three sheets to the wind and didn’t pay attention to my warning.
See also: sheet, three, wind
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

three sheets in/to the wind

Drunk. The term comes from sailing ships and refers to the sheet, or rope, that controls the sail. If a sheet is allowed to flap freely in the wind, the sail also flaps about and the vessel proceeds on a tottering course, like that of an intoxicated person. The more sheets are loose, the shakier the course. Dickens used the expression figuratively in Dombey and Son (1848): “Captain Cuttle, looking . . . at Bunsby more attentively, perceived that he was three sheets in the wind, or in plain words, drunk.” The expression may be obsolescent today, at least in America.
See also: sheet, three, to, wind
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
Full browser ?