bottle [ = courage ]

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Hi, everyone:

He has got a lot of bottle.

I know that "bottle" here means "courage", but I'm wondering what is the origin of this expression.

Best wishes.
  • difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    It might come from consuming alcohol, we also say someone may have "dutch courage" which means that they are drunk enough to have courage.


    Senior Member
    England, English UK
    "Losing my bottle" is always an expression of fear, normally sudden and inconvenient (when fighting enemies in battle, at war or in a pub!).

    Your analogy regarding an exam is excellent!



    I'm reading about a person who make a raft to escape from a deserted island.

    He makes it by wood, polystyrene and bottle.

    vWhen he's about to go, he say :

    "But ultimately there comes a time where you just got to commit to it, summon up a little bit of bottle, and then just go for it.

    what does he mean by 'summon up a little bit of bottle"

    Somebody please help!


    Senior Member

    There is an article headline: "Will David Miliband's 'lack of bottle' cost him the Labour leadership?"

    My question is: does the 'lack of bottle', here, mean the same as "lose one's bottle"?

    Thank you.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes, "bottle" has the same meaning in both expressions - courage.

    But "lack" of bottle could mean that someone never had any courage to start with, not that they've lost it:).


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    From The Economist June 26 2010 an article about the recent budget:
    No-one can deny that George Osborne has bottle.
    I had never heard this expression before but guessed from the :)eek:) context that it meant guts or courage. I wonder if it is commonly used and commonly understood, and what its origin is. Is it only a BrE expression?

    This link provided a variety of fanciful suggestion but concluded with
    The simplest and probably the best explanation is that bottle originally stood for the courage that comes out of a bottle and has gradually come to mean genuine courage.


    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    It's a very common expression in my (original) neck of the woods, the English Midlands.

    'Milk's gotta lotta bottle' was a famous advertising slogan when I was young :)


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Erm... there are several previous threads, Julian.

    I chose this one because I'm in it (delusions of grandeur, moi?): lack of bottle.

    I have no idea about the origin, but this thread offers some ideas: I think I'm losing my bottle. I think I'm going tonto.

    Is "bottle= courage" common in BrE? Yes, very.
    As Bevj says:).

    EDIT: Links removed as threads now merged....
    Last edited:


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I have never heard the expression used; it appears that most other Americans haven't either.

    The Corpus of Contemporary American English, has no instance of "a lot of bottle", out of more than 400 million words, while the British National Corpus with about 100 million words has 6 instances.

    Similarly, a quick survey of the results of Google news search for "a lot of bottle" seems to indicate that all the citations are of BE sources.
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