“The Drinkers Dictionary,” a list of 229 expressions describing someone who is inebriated, is commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin; a Pennsylvania Gazette article of January 13, 1737 (1736 Old Style), is credited as its first publication. There is, however, an earlier publication of a very similar word list in the New England Weekly Journal of July 6, 1736. The two word lists are largely identical; however, differences in the lists and the accompanying essays indicate that “The Drinkers Dictionary” originated in Boston and suggest that Franklin's 1722 Silence Dogood essay in the New-England Courant was not the primary genesis for either word list. Thus, Franklin was not the earliest publisher and most likely not the principal compiler of the word list. Possible New England authors of the NEWJ essay and its dictionary are Mather Byles, Joseph Green, and John Colman.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.