cigarette: take a drag/puff

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Hi, Are they different? I take a puff on a cigarette and I take a drag on a cigarette. They both mean To inhale the smoke? Thanks
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    They both do mean that, Red Giant. I tend to think that a drag is deeper and longer than a puff. Also, you can puff on a pipe or cigar without inhaling. Used this way, a puff would mean a mouthful of smoke.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Well, pipe smokers don't really exhale on or through their pipes. Instead, they hold the pipes in their mouths and exhale smoke out the sides of their mouths. Sometimes they also take the pipes out of their mouths before exhaling. This is a quiet thing, however. Puffing noisily is something that people do when they're gasping for air or breathing hard.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Here's how I see it: if you take a drag on a cigarette, you literally drag (or draw) the smoke into your lungs. It's what smokers do.
    If, however, you take a puff, you just put it in your mouth and suck a bit, without dragging smoke into your lungs. It's what non-smokers do when given a cigarette:)
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I know take a puff and take a drag. But now I also learned 'take a hit'. Sounds odd to my ears but that may be because I had never heard it before I started reading 'The Bear and the Dragon' by Tom Clancy.

    Is it used in US English a lot? Do BE speakers know it? :)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don't think I've heard it for cigarettes, but I gather it's used for strong drugs, and so it may have spread to soft drugs, whether or not smoked, and from there to tobacco.
     

    kool-wind

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, this BE speaker knows it.

    I've always heard it in the context of smoking a joint, or when someone starts smoking and feels the effect much more than those who are accustomed to it.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Ah, and I always used 'take a toke' for stronger stuff... Alright, so 'take a hit' it is. You live and learn... :) Thanks, friends.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Ah, and I always used 'take a toke' for stronger stuff...
    I've never heard that. Do you remember where you got it from? Could you have misheard?
    Coke, perhaps, or poke? Otherwise it suggests a connection to token, but that doesn't entirely convince.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Remember where and when I first heard it - no way I could :) However, now that you ask, I think there was even a song, like this one:
    http://www.songlyrics.com/cc-music-factory/take-a-toke-lyrics/

    Every time I hear 'take a toke' it starts ringing in my mind. It is not inconceivable that I know it because of the song, but something tells me this is not the case. :) Anyway, if I learned it from the song, this will have been in 1994...

    Then this dictionary says 'toke' is a word:
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/toke
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Ah, yes. I see my 1986 M-W has it in the updates section. It says "origin unknown"; one might speculate that it is more than coincidence that it rhymes with 'smoke'.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Brewer and Shipley's song "One Toke Over the Line" was written in 1970. The Charlie Daniels song "Uneasy Rider," written in 1973, includes the line "Tokin' on a number and diggin' on the radio." Not sure when I first heard "One Toke..." but I did hear "Uneasy Rider" when it first came out, and was already familiar with the word.

    And I have heard "take a hit on a cigarette" before.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Ah, yes. I see my 1986 M-W has it in the updates section. It says "origin unknown"; one might speculate that it is more than coincidence that it rhymes with 'smoke'.
    For what it's worth, one of the dictionaries on the website linked to by Boozer offers the following on the etymology of 'toke':
    [Perhaps from Spanish toque, a hit, a turn, from tocar, to touch, from Vulgar Latin *tocc
    re.]​

    My Oxford Spanish-English dictionary also gives, among others, the following translation for the Spanish word 'toque':
    5 a (Méx arg) (de marihuana) joint (colloq), spliff (arg)
     
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