Green’s Dictionary of Slang

soak n.1

[soak v.1 (1)]

1. a drunkard, usu. with old; note earlier soaker n.1 (1)

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]J. Clare Poems Rural Life (3rd edn) 99: And hearty soaks oft hand the bottle round .
[US]R.M. Bird City Looking Glass V i: What fools men are to get drunk. – Here soak, you rogue.
Cheltenham Examiner 10 Aug. 3/4: ‘Old King Cole was a merry old soak’.
[US]H.L. Williams N.-Y. After Dark 63: The customers are [...] expressively named ‘bloats,’ ‘old soaks,’ ‘bummers,’ ‘rummies,’ ‘tods’ and so on.
[US]A. Garcia Tough Trip Through Paradise (1977) 103: A fine large man, but now useless and only a whiskey soak.
[US]World (N.Y.) 7 Aug. 10/3: From the seats in right field Anson is continually called a ‘lunkhead,’ a ‘duffer’ and an old ‘soak,’ while Ewing is lauded to the skies.
[UK]Coventry Eve. Teleg. 1 Apr. 4/3: ‘Why don’t you swear off? Old Soak ‘I be sworn off water.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 192: Th’ difference between that soak an’ th’ best lawyer at the New York bar is less’n one hundred dollars.
[US]S.E. White Arizona Nights II 215: The regular inhabitants’re a set of Mexican bums and old soaks.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 153: The Man who wasn’t strictly on the Rainwater they classed with Joe Morgan, the Village Soak.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 16 Sept. [synd. col.] Ice cream parlors were the meeting places of the old soaks he knew in the old days.
[UK]‘Leslie Charteris’ Enter the Saint 158: He calmly annexed Mr. Conway’s tankard and sank into a chair. ‘Well, soaks,’ he remarked, ‘how was the English countryside looking this afternoon.’.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 271: He wondered, too, if he didn’t marry, would he be an old soak.
Dly Mirror 27 Aug. 24/7: [advert] My husband thought I was an old ‘soak’.
[UK]M.J. Blunt 7 Sept. diary in Garfield Our Hidden Lives (2004) 271: Much scandal, too, is circulating at present about members of the Government. Bevin, it is said, is a ‘soak’.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love and Hunger 136: That old soak. What’s he doing these days?
[UK]K. Howard Small Time Crooks 85: Joe’s creased brown face took on a kind of comic look like a soak in a movie seeing things double.
[US]N. Algren Chicago: City On the Make 32: Old soaks’ goat’s nests, backstreet brothels.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 71: ‘Oh all right,’ I say, eyes gleaming, the poor soak.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 70: If it isn’t the old rum-soak himself.
[UK]‘John le Carré’ Smiley’s People 171: Get the old soak another drinkie, double-quick.
[UK]Stage (London) 29 Aug. 25/1: Credric’s mother is an old soak.
[UK]Indep. 14 June 20: Sinclair’s new biography of the Welsh soak with the mad-cherub eyes.
[UK]H. Mantel Beyond Black 340: It’s only me had to listen to that stinky old soak.
[UK]R. Fortey Dry Store Room No. 1 144: Genes, like old soaks, can evidently be pickled in spirits.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Zero at the Bone [ebook] ‘Thomas here’s been trying to slip me Claytons. The cordial you drink when you’re not having a drink. Can’t fool an old soak like me. No substitute for gin is there, Thomas?’.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[UK]Guardian Guide 10–16 July 53: The reporter’s old soak colleague.

3. (US) a drink.

[US]G.W. Harris ‘The Knob Dance’ Spirit of the Times (N.Y.) XV July in Inge (1967) 48: Give him a soak at the crock and a lick of the patent bee-hive.

4. a heavy drinking session.

[US]C.G. Parsons Inside View of Slavery 51: When the Southron intends to have a ‘soak,’ he takes the bottle to his bed-side, goes to bed, and lies there till he gets drunk.
[UK]Albert Chevalier ‘Yer Never Ask’d ’Im For It’ [lyrics] An’ in Court ’is nibs is saucy! [...] ’E declares we’ve never been upon the soak.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Thirsty Island’ in Three Elephant Power 75: When no ships arrive, the Islanders just drop into the pubs, as a matter of routine, for their usual evening soak.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight 227: He has been on the skyte, bend, loose, soak.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 24: ‘Dalgety must have had a soak this time.’ ‘Elvira says she’s been on the binge ever since she came to town and that’s nearly a week ago.’.
[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 26: Soak: A [...] bout of drinking.

5. a despised person.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 61: soak, n. An unpopular fellow.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 65: The poor soak doesn’t make but eighteen hundred a year.
[UK]A. Sinclair Breaking of Bumbo (1961) 51: Mad Mike [...] plus the soak, no-soda-please, Mack-Jones.

In compounds

soakpot (n.)

a drunkard.

[UK]J. Miller Humours of Oxford II i: How many great Matches have I refus’d on your Account? – there was Mr. Rakewell of Queens [...] Mr. Soakpot of Maudlin.
S. Foote Devil Upon Two Sticks 27: Dr. Linctus, from Leyden, run me up a bill of thirty odd pounds, for only attending Alderman Soakpot six days in a surfeit.

In phrases

get a soak on (v.)

(US) to drink heavily.

[US]W.J. Kountz Billy Baxter’s Letters 22: I’ve never said much about it, but you let any of these fellows who own horses get a soak on, and they get to be a kind of a village pest.