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three sheets to the wind
Derived from sailing ships. The 'sheet' in the phrase uses the nautical meaning of a rope that controls the trim of sail. If a sheet is loose, the sail flaps and doesn't provide control for the ship. Having several sheets loose ("to the wind") could cause the ship to rock about drunkenly. Before settling on the standard usage of "three sheets", a scale used to be employed to rate the drunkenness of a person, with "one sheet" meaning slightly enebriated, and "four sheets" meaning unconscious.
Adjectivethree sheets to the wind (not comparable)
- (idiomatic) Drunk.
- That late in the evening, he was three sheets to the wind and had long since stopped making sense.
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