Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Carouse

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is carouse. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Carouse means “to drink alcohol, make noise, and have fun with other people.”

// After a long night of carousing around Puerto Vallarta, the travelers settled into their hotel room.

CAROUSE in Context

“While my best friend and I took in two rowdy Mardi Gras parades during our weekend trip, we didn’t come just to carouse. I wanted to eat seafood po’ boys and hear music and experience Cajun culture as we relished the early spring Southern greenery. We wanted to experience this singular American city.” — Laura Johnston, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 19 Feb. 2023

Did You Know?

Sixteenth-century English revelers toasting each other’s health sometimes drank a brimming mug of booze straight to the bottom—drinking an “all-out,” they called it. German tipplers did the same and used the German expression for “all out”—gar aus. The French adopted the German term as carous, using the adverb in their expression boire carous (“to drink all out”). That phrase, with its idiomatic sense of “to empty the cup,” led to carrousse, a French noun meaning “a large draft of liquor.” And that’s where English speakers picked up carouse in the 1500s, using it first as a direct borrowing of the French noun, which later took on the sense of a general “drunken revel,” and then as a verb meaning “to drink freely.” The verb later developed the “rowdy partying” use familiar to us today.

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