Know any good boozers? Been to any lively booze-ups recently? Tim Bowen explains how this informal word can be traced back as far as the 13th century.

Booze can be either a verb or a noun, meaning 'to drink alcohol' and 'alcoholic drink' respectively. Despite its use in present-day informal British English, it is quite an old word and has been traced back as far as the 13th century. It is believed to derive from the old Dutch verb busen meaning ‘to drink to excess’.

These days it is more commonly used as a noun than a verb, although the form boozing can often be heard, as in 'We went out boozing last night'. The related noun boozer can either mean 'a person who boozes', in other words 'a drinker' (of alcoholic drinks) , as in 'He’s a bit of a boozer', or, much more commonly, the place where a boozer boozes, namely a pub, as in 'The King’s Head is a decent boozer'. Finally, there is the compound noun booze-up, which the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners defines as 'a party or social event where people drink a lot of alcohol'. Cheers!