I could think of better ways to deal with it than hitting the bottle.

  1. Would the phrase "hit the bottle" be understood by any native English speaker?

  2. Could you think of another phrase with the same meaning that would be more common in this context? What about "turning to the bottle"?

  • 3
    Unfortunately, "any" is horribly ambiguous in English, and you should take care when using it or use other terms. Your question can mean "Does a native English speaker exist who would understand it?" or "Would the phrase 'hit the bottle' be understood by every native English speaker?" or "Is there any native English speaker who would understand 'hit the bottle'?" Feb 20, 2022 at 5:23

5 Answers 5


"Hit the bottle" is an idiom, meaning "start to drink alcohol heavily".

It's informal, so it may or may not suit your context. But the meaning is well understood.

There are lots of drinking idioms! " "Turn to drink" means use alcohol to avoid problems. "Fall off the wagon" means start drinking again after a period of abstinence. "Get plastered" mean get very drunk on one occasion. "Self medicate" (ironic) etc etc.

  • 3
    Cultures in which drinking alcohol is allowed tend to have a very large number of idioms related to that. The number is probably growing all the time. I think 'beginning to view the world through the bottom of a whisky glass" would mean roughly the same as 'hitting the bottle'. Of course one may substitute another beverage. The wearing of 'beer goggles' is not unknown. Feb 19, 2022 at 15:21
  • "Turn to drinking" is more common than "turn to drink" in American English, FWIW
    – costrom
    Feb 19, 2022 at 17:47
  • 2
    Are you sure falling off the wagon is regional? I have a lot of trouble with this sort of thing because I was raised with AmE but have spent several years living in the UK, so it all sounds natural to me at this point, but I could have sworn that particular idiom is common on both sides of the Atlantic.
    – terdon
    Feb 19, 2022 at 19:06
  • @terdon - James K wrote that 'falling off the wagon' is 'chiefly American' (my italics). 'Chiefly' does not mean the same as 'exclusively'. People mount or fall off that figurative, overworked, wagon in the UK, and the expression is immediately understood. Feb 19, 2022 at 20:13
  • Midwest US reader here. We also "get plastered." Probably a little too frequently for our own good.
    – phyrfox
    Feb 19, 2022 at 20:20

Yes. Context will help your reader and will help us make more fitting suggestions.

Use of could weakens the assertion. Be sure that is your intent, or strengthen the language.

Other similar wordings:

  • Bottle or “the bottle” as a synecdoche for alcohol:
    • I can think of better ways to deal with it than the bottle.
    • There are better ways of dealing with it than the bottle.
    • You won’t find the answer at the bottom of a bottle.
  • Drinking as a euphemism for consuming alcohol:
    • Don’t let it drive you to drinking (meaning habitual consumption or even alcoholism).
    • Drinking won’t solve it.
    • Using drink as a noun to refer to consuming alcohol has a British English feel:
      • Don’t turn to drink.
      • Don’t let it turn you to drink.
  • American English idioms:
    • Don’t go drowning your sorrows.
    • Don’t try to drown your sorrows.
    • Got a tear in your beer (as in so distraught as to weep into an open glass)?
    • Bottoms up
    • Hit the bar or bars, bar crawl
    • Belly up or belly up to the bar
    • Beer goggles, for when one rates another’s attractiveness higher than he would otherwise while sober
  • Labels for alcohol:
    • Booze
    • Liquor
    • Sauce or the sauce — and hitting the sauce does refer to alcohol
    • Spirits
    • Brown water, a euphemism for dark spirits
    • Fire water (be careful with this one as the right character needs to say it to be authentic)
    • Liquid cheer, when someone wants a mood lift or to escape sadness
    • Liquid courage, for getting up the nerve to approach someone attractive or fight

I would say there is some nuance in what “hit the bottle” means, in your example sentence, absent other context, I would assume that they they became a habitual drunkard, as IMO it has the implication of long term behavior.

Reading that sentence, it sounds like the speaker is either chastising someone that has become a drunkard or claiming to be better than the drunkard.

That doesn’t have to be the case, “let’s go hit the bottle” would be understood to mean to go drinking, without the implication of becoming a drunkard.


I doubt many people would use such a phrase but they would certainly understand the meaning. It seems to imply a wish to get completely bladdered/wasted. If all you intended was a few drinks down at your local I can't imagine this being used and in that case "fancy a pint" is pretty universally recognised.

If you do plan to get legless, arseholed, pissed as a newt, blotto or drink yourself under the table the list of widely recognised phrases will take too much valuable drinking time to mention here.


"Falling off the wagon" (archaic) is in reference to "I'm on the water wagon" meaning "I am drinking only water (soda, etc.) and not any alcohol".

"He fell off the wagon" is an idiom that means "he began drinking again", after a time of strictly avoiding alcohol, so it is implied that heavy and frequent/daily alcohol consumption has resumed.

I found a stronger reference about men/man in the early 1900s climbing onto a mule-drawn water wagon (used to spray down dusty roads) to announce that they had quit drinking. I would guess this phrase became popular because it was acted out in a play or song lyrics or an early motion picture (movie) silent film.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .