In fact, any one of these describes the mood and the moment perfectly well: [used with être] éméché, saoul, soûl, enivré, ivre, bitteré, bourré – je suis bourré, j’etais bourré hier.
Alternatively, there’s: Boire un coup de trop – which means to drink a bit too much (j’ai bu un coup de trop – “I had one too many”).
But they’re all a little formal. A romance language as poetic as French can do better. And it does. Here are just a few – you just may need to be a little careful in front of the boss or the in-laws:
[Être] pompette – a lovely little phrase to describe that lovely little feeling of being just a bit tipsy, when you’re at that love-the-world stage of your night out. Your bar banter is the funniest it will ever be, and if you stopped now, everything would be fine, but then…
Use it like this: je suis pompette – “I’m tipsy”.
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Déchiré – is at the other end of the night out spectrum to pompette. You may have started the evening in saintly mode, telling everyone Je veux pas être trop bourré(e) (I don’t want to drink too much), but you went too far and got déchiré – think ‘hammered’ and you’ll be on the money.
Use it like this: je suis déchiré – “I am hammered”.
Se péter la gueule – literally, to break your face and is a poetically brutal French way of saying you’re ‘smashed’. You could also use se beurrer la gueule (buttering your face) for that delightful ‘being plastered’ image.
Use it like this: elle s’est pété la gueule – “she’s smashed”.
Complètement pété – direct and to the point, this one, and about as poetic as a pissoir after a riot at a beer festival. If we’re being polite, it means ‘wasted’. Don’t say it about a co-worker in front of the boss at the Christmas do.
Use it like this: il est completement pété – “he is completely wasted”. (ahem)
And a few more:
Se prendre une culotte – trousered. Very sartorial. Use it like this: il se prend une culotte
Plein comme une barrique – (as full as a barrel) bladdered. Use it like this: Il est plein comme une barrique
S’arracher la face – (tear your face off) off your face. Use it like this: tu t’es arraché la face
S’éclater la tronche – literally to smash your face and one or several steps beyond s’arracher la face. Use it like this: il s’est éclaté la tronche
Se mettre la tête à l’envers – out of your head (literally ‘turn your head upside down’) Use it like this: elle s’est mis la tête à l’envers
Other useful night-out phrases
Sam – Introducing the universal term for the non-drinking designated driver for the evening. The expression comes from an old French government road safety campaign to promote driving without drinking. The acronym stands for Sans Accidents Mortels (no fatal accidents).
Use it like this: Qui se fait Sam ce soir ? – “Who’s the designated driver tonight?”
PLS – another acronym it’s handy to know if someone in your party goes overboard. PLS stands for Position Latéral de Sécurité – also known as the recovery position. It can also be used to describe how you’re looking after your tender morning-after self.
Use it like this: Aujourd’hui je ne fais rien, je suis en PLS sur mon canapé à regarder Netflix – “Today I’m not doing anything, I’m recovering on the couch, watching Netflix.”
Speaking of that hangover feeling, here’s a couple of other ways to describe it.
Gueule de bois – This literally translates as a ‘wooden face’ and describes the tender head, churning nausea and vague sense of dread that follows a night out that perhaps went a little too far.
Use it like this: J’ai la gueule de bois aujourd’hui, je crois que j’ai bu trop de vin à la fête – “I am hungover today, I think I drank to much wine at the party.”
Caisse – This French slang has three meanings – but we’re not interested in the one for ‘car’ or ‘fart’. We want to know about the one that refers to someone who’s enjoyed a bit too much of the happy juice. Prendre une caisse means to party hard – perhaps a bit too hard. Caning it, you might say.
Use it like this: il avait pris une caisse pendant la soirée – “He was really caning it at the party.”