Post-Holiday Drunkenness? There’s a Word for That!

Below are excerpts from several grammarians and scholars on the meaning of kraipale, a Greek word referring to the physical after-effects of drunkenness. In the thorough Socratic manner, we must first define our terms – later, I will add a post about how to manage this affliction! (No, the answer will not ‘abstinence’.)

Phrynicus, praeparatio sophistica 78.12-14:

Kraipale: The act of drinking from evening until morning and the consequent derangement of the senses; derived from ‘pallein,’ which means ‘to shake,’ the head.

κραιπάλη (Aristoph. Acharn. 277 et saepius): ἡ ἀφ’ ἑσπέρας ἄχρι εἰς ὄρθρον πόσις καὶ παραφορὰ τῆς διανοίας, ἀπὸ τοῦ πάλλειν, ὅ πέρ ἐστιν διασείειν, τὴν κεφαλήν.

Ptolemaeus Grammaticus, de differentia vocabulorum: 393.7-9

‘Kraipale’ (the headache from drunkenness) and ‘methe’ (drunkenness) differ: For, ‘methe’ is drunkenness which occurs on the same day. ‘Kraipale,’ however, is the drunkenness leftover from yesterday.

κραιπάλη καὶ μέθη διαφέρει· μέθη μὲν γάρ ἐστιν ἡ τῆς αὐτῆς ἡμέρας γινομένη οἴνωσις· κραιπάλη δὲ ἡ ἐχθεσινὴ μέθη.

Hesychius, Lexicon:

Kraipale: The headache which springs from yesterday’s drunkenness.

*κραιπάλη· ἡ ἀπὸ τῆς χθιζῆς μέθης κεφαλαλγία (Luc. 21,34)

Etymologicum Magnum:

Kraipalo (verb): A second linking of the vowels with a circumflex. [?] The verb is formed from ‘kraipale,’ which signifies ‘methe’ (drunkenness). This comes from ‘kara’ (head) and ‘pallo’ (shake) by transposition and syncope.

Κραιπαλῶ: Δευτέρας συζυγίας τῶν περισπωμένων· γίνεται ἐκ τοῦ κραιπάλη, ὃ σημαίνει τὴν μέθην· τοῦτο παρὰ τὸ κάρα καὶ τὸ πάλλω, ὑπερθέσει καὶ συγκοπῇ.

Scholia in Aristophanis Acharnenses 277:

“from kraipale”: Drunkenness in the morning is called ‘kraipale;’ the drunkenness from yesterday’s wine-drinking.

ἐκ κραιπάλης: ἡ ἐξ ἑωθινοῦ μέθη κραιπάλη καλεῖται, ἡ ἀπὸ χθιζῆς οἰνοποσίας. EΓ


Thomas Magister, Ecloga nominum et verborum Atticorum:

Kraipale: The heaviness in the head from yesterday’s wine-drinking; ‘methe’ is the feeling of drunkenness on the same day.

Κραιπάλη ἡ ἐκ τῆς χθὲς γενομένης οἰνοποσίας κάρωσις, μέθη δὲ ἡ ἐπὶ τῆς αὐτῆς ἡμέρας. 

This is a subject we have contemplated before: ancient authors love the topic and there are poems about it.


“Hangover-song:  metonymically, a song that happens when you’re drunk”

Κραιπαλαίκωμος: μετωνυμικῶς ὁ κατὰ μέθην γινόμενος  ὕμνος.

2 thoughts on “Post-Holiday Drunkenness? There’s a Word for That!

  1. So – crapula (“hangover”) is considered by some to have come in to Latin from Etruscan. But Etruscan is considered by some to be an isolate language. But now it turns out that crapula has a Greek cognate. (kraipale/crapula?) That has to be evidence for something interesting – any ideas?

    1. One of those possibilities has to be abandoned; either Etruscan is not a language isolate, or crapula did not come from Etruscan. My own inclination is to think that crapula is a direct loan-word from Greek. It is attested in Plautus, whose plays are full of Greek borrowings. I see no real need to postulate that crapula was imported from Etruscan unless there is actual evidence of this; yet, any substantial evidence of this borrowing would then rule out the possibility of isolation.

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