One over the eight


What's the meaning of the phrase 'One over the eight'?

The final drink that renders someone drunk.

What's the origin of the phrase 'One over the eight'?

This originated as UK military slang. The first reference to it in print is in Fraser and Gibbons’ Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases, 1925:

“One over the eight, one drink too many. Slightly intoxicated, the presumption being that an average ‘moderate’ man can safely drink eight glasses of beer.”

After a gallon of beer ‘slightly intoxicated’ seems a bit of an understatement. Beer was weaker in the 1920s than it is now, but even so.

Other phrases first cited in Fraser and Gibbons:

Go Dolally
Jam tomorrow

Loaf of bread (head)

See also one for the road.

Other ‘One‘ phrases:

One-hit wonder
One fell swoop – At
One for the road
One foot in the grave
One sandwich short of a picnic
One small step for man
One stop shop
One swallow doesn’t make a summer

Trend of one over the eight in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.