What do you call the act of drinking a whole bottle of, say, water in one go? It doesn't have to be water.

17 Answers 17

up vote 120 down vote accepted

I would call this chugging (to consume a drink in large gulps without pausing, per Webster). It's commonly used to describe rapidly drinking beer but applies equally to other beverages.

This is the case, at least, in Canadian and American English.

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    Worth noting this is probably American English really - 'downing' is more common in British English. – stripybadger Aug 14 at 9:16
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    @Smeato - that's a new one on me (SE England). The only novel use of the word I'm familiar with is stopping people on the street to solicit (usually quite forcefully) charitable donations by subscription (where "chugging" is a portmanteau of "Charity mugging"). I truly do live and learn. – Spratty Aug 14 at 10:23
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    As an American I think "downing" is still slightly more appropriate to convey drinking the entire bottle. "chugging" is the act of "drinking in large gulps without pausing", certainly, but to me it doesn't imply drinking the entire container at once, while "downing" does. The "without pausing" (of "chugging") is taken to mean many gulps are taken in rapid succession, but this can often happen two or three times before an entire drink is empty. Then again, nobody bothered to post "downing" as an answer and I think that may be due to that word needing more context to be clear. – Darren Ringer Aug 14 at 16:31
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    @DarrenRinger It's the opposite to me. Chug has a stronger implication of drinking the entire beverage at once. In fact, in drinking games, it's common (here anyway) for a group to shout "Chug, chug" while someone is drinking a beer in a single deep gulp. – Jim MacKenzie Aug 14 at 16:42
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    @JimMacKenzie I think that fits in with his point. Each big gulp when doing that is what I would consider the "chug". "Chugging" is the method of drinking using those big gulps. When people chant "chug" it's so that you keep chugging the beverage until you've "downed" the whole thing. "Downing" a beer implies that you've gotten the whole thing "down" (i.e. in your stomach); chugging is the preferred method to down a beer. That's how I've always related those terms based on context at least. "Chug" is the onomatopoeia for the gulping sound of each big bubble going through. – JMac Aug 15 at 12:33

In addition to what has been suggested, "chug", you also have other options

You can use the verb down. Here is an example on YouTube of people downing drinks. For example, you can say

He downed his beer.

Alternatively, you could also say throw back a drink.

They threw back their shots.

"Throw back" is usually used to describe drinking small volume of liquid very quickly.

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    As a slight addition to what Michael said, in the North of England, "downing" is probably the go to word. – Name Namerson Aug 14 at 3:04
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    I'd probably say that it's the go-to word in the South of England also. – Sean Burton Aug 14 at 10:27
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    It does imply that the drink is probably alcoholic though. The OP did say water as an example. – Christopher Aug 15 at 18:10
  • I would consider "He/she downed the lot" to be a very idiomatic colloquialism in Britain. – Pharap Aug 19 at 6:05
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    At university "downed in one" was the idiomatic way to specify that the drink was drunk in one go (without pauses to breathe). Possibly that would be more specific? – Ben Aug 19 at 20:27

In Australia, the term used is "Sculling" (Or "Skolling", as the Macquarie Dictionary felt so inclined to consider as an alternative) - https://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/blog/article/258/

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    Coz 'skol' is viking (or maybe scottish) for cheers – mcalex Aug 14 at 6:59
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    @mcalex It's Swedish/Norwegian. Pronounced slightly differently between the two, and perhaps spelled slightly differently. – Todd Wilcox Aug 14 at 14:06
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    @ToddWilcox it looks like Norse originally if that link is accurate. The Scots would've got it by invasion. – mcalex Aug 14 at 14:53
  • @mcalex Maybe I misunderstood your first comment - I thought it was about the words as used today, not the etymology. – Todd Wilcox Aug 14 at 14:56
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    @ToddWilcox - Same word in Danish too. I think we can just call it "scandinavian". – AndyT Aug 15 at 9:44

You could also consider knock back:

  • knock back

    1. phrasal verb
      If you knock back a drink, especially an alcoholic one, you drink it quickly, and often in large amounts.
      [informal]
      He was knocking back his 10th gin and tonic of the day. [VERB PARTICLE noun]
      She poured some vodka into a glass and knocked it back in two swallows. [VERB noun PARTICLE]

    (Collins Dictionary)

  • knock something back
    Sl. to drink down a drink of something, especially something alcoholic. (See also knock back a drink.) I don't see how he can knock that stuff back. John knocked back two beers in ten minutes.
    (TFD)

In American English, we often call this chugging, which (apparently) is short for the verb chugalug. I have never heard anyone use the full word "chugalug", though, only "chug".

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    30-40 years ago there was an advertising jingle for Lipton brand iced tea that included the word chug-a-lug. (US) – arp Aug 13 at 23:50
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    Roger Miller song – bof Aug 14 at 11:35
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    Usually chanted over and over, as in "Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug!". Ah, the (rather fuzzy) memories..! – Bob Jarvis Aug 15 at 2:31
  • In my experience chug-a-lug is used as a command/request like "drink up, we're leaving." As in, "chug-a-lug, pal, we're off to the next party." – Tim Nevins Aug 15 at 17:45
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    You were 2 seconds behind an identical answer... – ErikE Aug 18 at 1:11

There are also instances where "slam" or "slam back" can be used, usually to indicate that a beverage gets consumed quickly. The only contexts I've hear this used are when an unexpected deadline comes up or when one is very thirsty and consumes the drink in question as soon as it arrives.

She slammed that beer after finding out what time it was.

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    Slam back is probably more clear; slam leaves some doubt as to whether it's drinking it quickly or setting it down quickly. – Mathieu K. Aug 14 at 2:47
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    I honestly have never heard the use of slam back until I looked for a definition online. It may be a local thing, but it's been shortened to just slam in any context I can recall. – Nielsvh Aug 14 at 16:44
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    I would say 'slam' or 'slam back' is generally used for shots. It's a quick action, so you wouldn't use it with a full glass of beer. – pboss3010 Aug 15 at 11:34
  • I've never heard or used 'slam back,' but have very often heard slamming in context with finishing a beverage. "Slam a beer." "I had to slam my glass of milk, otherwise I would have been late for school!" – Chowzen Aug 16 at 10:50
  • @pboss3010, I've heard it used for almost everything drinkable, including tea. – Nielsvh Aug 16 at 15:10

Guzzle refers to drinking (or eating) something quickly.

From dictionary.com: to drink, or sometimes eat, greedily, frequently, or plentifully.

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    Good choice, but it doesn't have connotations that the drink was finished. – Ruadhan2300 Aug 14 at 10:25
  • @Ruadhan2300 You could say: "You guzzled (down) that bottle of water." That would say (at least to me) that the bottle is finished. Of course if you say something like "She guzzled water all day long", that would not connote finishing a particular bottle. On the other hand the same could be said of some of the other answers: E.g., "She chugged water all day long." – paw88789 Aug 14 at 13:47
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    Granted, Generally adding Down to most of these words will produce the intended effect, probably the reason "Downed" actually works on its own. – Ruadhan2300 Aug 14 at 14:05
  • @Ruadhan2300 some of the definitions of guzzle/d more than imply that the drink would be finished...gulp, bolt, wolf, devour, eat greedily, eat hungrily, cram oneself with, stuff oneself with, gourmandize on; informal tuck into, put away, pack away, demolish, polish off... – Christopher Aug 14 at 14:27
  • Interesting. This is a pretty common word where I live, but it's only used to describe drinking, never eating. – DoctorDestructo Aug 15 at 20:25

You could also use the words drain or drained. "He drained his coffee".

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    I always assumed that meant to finish it off—to drink the last of it, without regard for whether an amount of it had already been consumed. Could be, for instance, taking the last gulp of said coffee. – Mathieu K. Aug 14 at 2:30
  • At least the vessel is empty. – Mazura Aug 14 at 14:22
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    I upvoted this, and I think it's accurate. But be careful about the context. In some circumstances, "he drained his water" might sound like he used the bathroom. – Dawood ibn Kareem Aug 14 at 23:45
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    @DawoodibnKareem I don't think "drained his water" (very commonly used around me) would come off that way to many people. "Drained his bladder" (also a common term around me) on the other hand, would. – Aethenosity Aug 18 at 18:03

Additionally, at least in England, among the "youth", you could be necking it.

I believe this usage originated with alcoholic beverages but I use it and hear it used in the context of pretty much any beverage, if only ironically.

I think it came from the notion of bending your neck while you pour this liquid down the hatch.

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    Alternative theory - I assumed it was from pouring it down your neck (i.e. throat). – Toby Speight Aug 15 at 14:32
  • @TobySpeight Yeah or that :D – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 15 at 18:00
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    However, in US English necking means kissing. Specifically, a heavier kiss (or kisses) than you would give your family; but still strictly lips, tongues, and hugs, no wandering hands. Once hands start to wander, the necking session turns into a petting session (heavy petting once hands go inside underwear). I think it came from the notion of sticking your tongue down your partner's throat. – geneSummons Aug 16 at 20:03
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    @geneSummons How long's your tongue?! – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 17 at 10:04
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    @geneSummons That's reasonably common in South-Eastern English English too. – Will Crawford Aug 20 at 0:39

Shotgun

OK, this act is normally done with a can, not a bottle but will work with plastic bottles; also the liquid is normally beer, not water, but that isn't required by the question so I think it qualifies.

A specific type of 'drinking the whole container in one go', shotgunning is the act of making a hole in the bottom of the container, bringing the hole to your mouth and then opening the lid. This causes the contents to quickly pour out the hole due to the assistance of gravity.

Not commonly associated with formal gatherings.

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    ...or commonly associated with drinking water. – J.R. Aug 14 at 13:38
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    ... which is cool, since that is explicitly not a requirement :-) – mcalex Aug 14 at 14:28
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    True, but I think it's important to share that sort of thing with the learners who frequent this Exchange. Since you didn't mention it in your answer, I clarified with a comment. – J.R. Aug 14 at 15:29

There are many words and expressions in the English language to describe the act of drinking a whole bottle of something in one go (e.g. He drank that whole bottle of vodka in one go.), but, I think, one of the most common among them would definitely be the phrasal verb to gulp down:

to eat or drink food or liquid quickly by swallowing it in large amounts

Here's an example sentence:

She gulped down her drink and made a hasty exit.

"Quaff" works as well, although it doesn't necessarily imply that the entire serving was consumed at once.

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    "Quaff" tends to be used more in fantasy novels as well, and is considered a 'dwarvish' trait. "Quaffing" in this setting, tends to describe it as drinking so heavily and fast, that you spill as much as you consume in the process. – Ryan The Leach Aug 15 at 7:11
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    In D&D, you'd quaff a magic potion, but you'd drink your ale. – Jim MacKenzie Aug 16 at 22:12
  • @RyanTheLeach: To quote Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, "quaffing is like drinking, but you spill more". Or By now, if it had been a dwarf bar, the floor would be sticky with beer, the air would be full of flying quaff, and people would be singing. ("flying quaff" as a noun to describe the part of the drink that misses your mouth is non-standard, but the implication is that bringing the mug towards your mouth with gusto is more important than having the drink actually go into your mouth.) – Peter Cordes Aug 19 at 10:00

I've heard this called pounding the beverage. Most often, this seems to be used with so-called 'sports drinks', but it's definitely not uniquely used for this.

  • Yes. But I remember "pounding" as specifically related to binge beer drinking. "Pound that beer! We need to refill our cups before the keg floats." – geneSummons Aug 16 at 19:55
  • @geneSummons - definitely not specific to beer binging; I remember once being asked "How can you pound Coke like that? Don't you need to belch after?" – Jeff Zeitlin Aug 16 at 20:00

While closely related to chug, in my experience (western USA) slam or slamming would be the word, particularly for carbonated beverages. To chug a beverage simply means taking more than one full swallow between (nose) breaths keeping the container's lip against your lips the whole time. To slam a beverage means to chug until the beverage liquid is gone. (and if you are slamming from a can and particularly thick headed, 'proving' all the liquid is gone by crushing the [aluminum] can against your forehead)

"I forgot to put my water bottle in my backpack before the hike. By the time I got back to my car, I was so thirsty, I slammed that bottle in one go, hardly pausing to breathe, even though the water was totally hot because the bottle had been sitting on the dash in the sun since I hit the trail."

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    This one should be the correct answer for US English. That's what I heard the term to mean. "Chug" simply means taking a big sip but not down the entire drink in one action. "Slamming" means to drink the whole thing, especially for carbonated drinks (in the 80s it was used for wine coolers). – Tensigh Aug 15 at 5:01

Drinking 'Ad Fundum'. Mainly used for alcohol, but literally means 'to the bottom'. Used for in 1 go.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Ad%20Fundum

As a bonus, this works in most western languages :)

"emptying" or "to empty" would also work, if it's clear from the context that drinking (rather than pouring out) is implied.

"Scoff" works in this meaning for drinks as well as food; see meaning 3 of the Merriam-Webster entry:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scoff

Apparently (see e.g. Collins https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/scoff, Cambridge https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/scoff etc.) the word in this meaning has universal or near universal usage food even though I seem to recall its being particularly prominent where I live (australia) and it seems to imply "consume like a hungry animal would" or "devour", rather like "fressen" in German, and a similar manner of consumption for drinking. It is even listed in the Collins as having a separate etymology from the word's commoner meaning: "scoff, scoff at" = "to scorn", namely probable Old Frisian "skof" for mockery for the "scorn" meaning and Afrikaans / Dutch "schoft" quarter of the day, one of the four daily meals for the devouring meaning.

I'm still not sure whether scoff's usage for drinking as opposed to food is more universal than only Australian usage, because I've always had the impression (perhaps mistaken, given the above etymologies) that the word arises from a confusion of "quaff" and "skoll". But it is certainly very common for australians to say "scoff" or "scoff down" a drink. Probably a mixture of confusion of "quaff", "skoll" and "scoff" (devour food). Even if its usage for drinks is confined to australian usage, I think usage elsewhere would be understood very well.

  • I always that this was a misspelling of "scarf" – Lyle Seaman Aug 19 at 18:53
  • but m-w says it might be the other way 'round. Interesting. – Lyle Seaman Aug 19 at 18:56

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