punish the gin bottle


Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
This is from Paul Theroux's short story "Pretend I'm Not Here", about a freeloading travel writer who imposes herself on the American(*) consul in Ayer Hitam, Malaysia. She is brash, pushy, inconsiderate. She has just arrived and coerced the consul into putting her up in his home.
On the verandah she said, 'You do all right for yourself,' and punished the gin bottle; and over dinner she said, 'Golly, do you eat like this every day?'
I assume that "punish the gin bottle" has to do with drinking, but what exactly?


(*)Oops. British, I think.
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  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    Seems to be figurative language for "taking liberties with...", pouring from it to excess. Apparently one can punish other bottles as well:
    Papa Frank: Natural Cough Remedies?

    Dec 17, 2007 ... I just punish the Nyquil bottle heavily when I get a cold. I don't guess kids can drink that stuff, though. It's pretty stout. ...


    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Thanks, cuchu.

    In case anyone is interested in more context, I found the story is also on line here, in the digital edition of The Atlantic Monthly.


    Senior Member
    English English
    Punish in that sense feels unfamiliar to me ... where give punishment to doesn't:
    She gave the gin bottle some punishment = she made free with the gin.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Punish the gin bottle sounds fine to me, and it is in the OED. Meaning 3c of the verb punish is:
    humorous. To consume or deplete (a stock of food, drink, etc.).
    A couple of OED examples:
    1825 C.M. WESTMACOTTEng. Spy I. 242 We..drank freely - punished his claret.
    1994 J. COPE Head-On (1999) 154 Our dressing room had a vaguely narcotics lab feel about it, what with Droyd and Bates and the head of Phonogram TV punishing large quantities of powder.
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