Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bender n.2

[? the image of a drunkard (or drug user) as unsteady on their feet; or ? f. an image of bending a bow or elbow. Note naut. jargon benjo, a spree, f. Ital./Lingua Fr. buengiorno, a good day]

1. a bout of riotous drinking, often lasting several days and including random acts of excess, violence etc; thus on a bender

[US]D. Corcoran Pickings from N.O. Picayune 62: I was on an almighty big bender last night, I tell you, and the way we did walk into the highly concentrated hard cider [...] worn’t slow.
[US]N.Y. Morning Express 6 Oct. 1/8: Augustus Tate [...] went on a bit of a bender Monday night.
[US]W. Hilleary diary 21 Mar. in A Webfoot Volunteer (1965) 170: Whisky flowed and green backs were ‘strowed.’ A general bender seems to be the order of the day.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 582: Bender, in the sense of a spree, a course of drinking, is the facetious name given to the arm, which becomes a bender from being so frequently bent or ‘crooked’ to lift the glass to the mouth. The word originated with the Scotch, among whom it designated the hard drinker as well as the drinking.
[US]Dodge City Times (KS) 2 June 5/3: Suppose Hayes and Morton should get on a bender and put their jewelry in soak for boose, then it would be appropriate to say they ‘got to the boose joint’ by this means.
[UK]J. Hatton Old House at Sandwich I 82: The boss of Drummond’s Gulch may be said to have begun his ‘bender’, as a bout of drunken dissipation was called in these regions.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 27 July 2/2: He is going on a howling bender.
[Aus]G. Boothby On the Wallaby 197: ‘Gin and brandy,’ he replied; and then noting our astonishment, went on to inform us that when he had been in the ‘Royal Bender’ (Anglicè, ‘drinking bout’) ‘he always took ’em together’.
[US]Smi-wkly Interior Jrnl (Standford, KY) 9 Nov. 2/4: ‘I feel like stopping here and going on a regular bender’ — Theodore Roosevelt in an address at the beer city of Milwaukee.
[UK]R. Beach Pardners (1912) 42: A thousand-dollar bender.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 1 Jan. n.p.: They go on a roaring bender for a week or two.
[US]F. Klaeber ‘A Word-List From Minnesota’ in DN IV i 10: bender, n. A (drinking) spree. ’dan was returning from a bender this morning.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Cow’ in Backblock Ballads 36: Once I wus a sinful spender. Used ter go a roarin’ bender.
[Aus]Western Champion (Barcaldine, Qld) 13 Mar. 68/1: Accused said he had been on a bender but he would never drink again.
[US]K. Brush Young Man of Manhattan 186: What a bender!
[Aus](con. WWI) L. Mann Flesh in Armour 123: He went on the bender too often, that was his main trouble.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Death Ends the Scene’ Hollywood Detective May 🌐 His protracted benders showed in his work; whereupon [...] his studio dropped his option and canned him off the lot.
[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘Die Hard’ in I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 9: That’s the beauty of a perpetual bender. You know just when you’ve had all you can hold, and you go on from there.
[US](con. 1950-1960) R.A. Freeman Dict. Inmate Sl. (Walla Walla, WA) 8: Bender – a drinking spree.
East Pakistan Police Co-operative Society Detective IX 10: Only when he is at the end of a bender and is beginning to have withdrawn symptons, does he crave more?
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 83: Come off a bender like that, always feel great.
[US]A. Rollini Big Bands 106: Whiteman had a little habit of going on a bender (getting drunk) about every three months for a couple of days.
[UK]Guardian Guide 3–9 July 9: A man who has survived countless benders.
[US]N. Tosches Where Dead Voices Gather (ms.) 239: As desultory, as melancholy, as desperately forlorn, and as fatal as a debilitated drunken laugh at the end of a two-week bender.
[US]C.R. Vargo Beyond My Horizon 57: I shook so badly that the duty officer asked me if I had come off a four-week bender.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] Definitely no all night benders [...] lots of booze, the occasional pill or line of coke if they were feeling particularly naughty.
[UK]Indep. on Sunday 25 Oct. 🌐 There were parties, there were epic benders, and there were jollies galore.

2. anything exceptional, astounding.

H.J. Daniel Bride of Scio 190: Ma vice [= fist] es wat I kal a bendur [EDD].
[US]Putnam’s Mag. Aug. in Bartlett Dict. Americanisms (1877) 39: I led her through the festal hall, / Her glance was soft and tender; / She whispered gently in my ear, ‘Say, Mozse, ain’t this a bender?’ .
[UK]Kipling Day’s Work 180: By Jove, it’s a bender of a night.
Darling Jargon Bk.

3. (US) a rampage.

W.W. Fowler Ten Years on Wall Street 430: The bears were on a ‘bender’ that day; the market was full of honey-combs, on which they were feasting.

4. one who poses as smarter than they are in the pursuit of hedonism.

[UK][perf. Vesta Tilley] Sydney’s holidays are in September 🎵 He's the bendiest of benders in his lavender suspenders / My word, he is a naughty boy.

In phrases

on a bender (adj.)

1. on a drinking spree.

E.A. Poe Ladies’ Comp. XX-XXI 205: I am acquainted with several young persons in the city [...] who occasionally go on a bender, as they call it,.
[US]D. Corcoran Pickings from N.O. Picayune (1847) 62: I was on an almighty big bender last night.
[US]‘Q.K. Philander Doesticks’ Doesticks, What He Says 169: Crew all on a ‘bender’ in the engine room, firemen all drunk on the boiler deck.
[UK]C. Mackay Life and Liberty in America 104: Among the pure Americanisms may be cited the following: [...] To go on a bender, to go on a spree.
[US]Richmond (VA) Dispatch 3 Jan. n.p.: Most of the owners of these names had been tempted by the festivities of the day to go on a regular bender, and had to pay the penalty for their New Year’s frolic by appearing this morning in the police-court.
Salina Dly Republican (KS) 25 Sept. 3/2: On a Tear [...] synonyms, ‘on a bender,’ ‘on a toot,’ ‘on a lark’.
[Aus]Gadfly (Adelaide) 28 Mar. 9/1: Anyhow, me an’ ’im goes on a bit of a bender up in Wirapilla, where we’re workin’ on a sawmill.
[UK]G. Stratton-Porter Harvester 442: I think I’ll go on a little bender, and make what probably will be the last day a plumb good one.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Coonardoo 20: And I’ve warned Paddy Hanson to look after Hughie if Sam does get on a bender.
[US](con. 1920s) Dos Passos Big Money in USA (1966) 1015: What do you think of a guy who goes on a bender at a critical moment like this?
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 16: He’s sick with the grog, too. Looks like he’s been on a bender.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: Wot abaht that time I took you out on a bender?
[US]P. Highsmith Cry of the Owl (1968) 119: Greg sometimes goes on benders. He could be hiding out somewhere – just drinking for a couple of days.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]S. King Different Seasons (1995) 471: Mr Chambers was on a bender.
[US]S. King It (1987) 37: You couldn’t very well go on a bender during a ten-minute rest-stop.
[UK]D. Farson Never a Normal Man 283: He launched himself on a three-day bender.
[UK]N. Griffiths Stump 171: Unless I was on a big, bad bender an then it’d be whisky for brekkie.
[UK]D. Mitchell Black Swan Green 96: He’s on another of his benders.
A.L. McLeod Overlord 182: He’d been on a bender for at least three days, given the condition of him and the house.
[Aus]G. Disher Consolation 322: ‘Clara’s here. She’s been on a bender, must’ve walked home from the pub’.

2. on any other kind of spree.

[US]S.J. Perelman Dawn Ginsbergh’s Revenge 155: ‘Let us have tiffin,’ I rejoined acidly, and forthwith we left on a crumpet bender.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 8 Mar. [synd. col.] Bea Wain, the swingstress, on a peanut bender at Leone’s.

3. bingeing on drugs.

[US]Trixie Smith ‘Jack, I’m Mellow’ 🎵 Just smoked some gage, / I’m a rampage [...] / I’m gonna strut like a Suzy-Q ’cause I’m on a bender!
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 141: Givin’ out insane stares like he’s on a charlie bender.
[UK]Guardian Guide 22–28 May 24: They’d allegedly gone on a Sex ’Ern Cocaine Bender to end all SECBs.