Would you do me the honor of having a little nip with me ?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Arzhela, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Arzhela

    Arzhela Senior Member

    Hello !
    Could you tell me how you understand "nip" here ? Saying that, the speaker is offering a flask of rhum to somebody.
    In french, I would say "boire une gorgée avec moi" but I've never seen "nip" with this meaning... What would you say?
    Thanks for you help !
  2. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    "Nip" can be used to mean a small amount of alcohol, such as a sip.
  3. mytwolangs Senior Member

    English United States
    "nip" is more slang than anything.
    nip/tuck means to have plastic surgery, but that is not what you are asking, yet it is one meaning.

    Nip in this case means "a little" or "un peu" as you might know it.
    I might say - "Arzhela, would you like a nip of rhum?"
    In normal context, a "nip" of alcohol would probably mean a lot more than just a little alcohol, of course.
  4. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    I do not think that it is slang - it is in most dictionaries with this meaning, and here is an etymology.
    nip (n.) "small measure of spirits," 1796, shortening of nipperkin (1671) "quantity of liquor of a half pint or less," possibly of Du. or Low Ger. origin
  5. mytwolangs Senior Member

    English United States
    While the word itself might not be slang, it is sometimes used in a slang context. Perhaps it is a more common word in England?
  6. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    Not used by most generations, maybe those who are slightly older, although the word would be understood by most. It's used in relation to spirits in very small quantities.

    Gatita :)
  7. Arzhela

    Arzhela Senior Member

    Thank you everybody for all these precisions. For you information, the speaker is american and he's always speaking slang... so I think you're right Mytwolangs.
    THANKS everybody ! MERCI à tous !
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A nip of rum is a common enough phrase, as is a nip of whiskey (or whisky). It may be old-fashioned, but it is still in regular use here, and in the dustier corners of Google (in the snug, one might say:)).

    The sense of slang for AE-speakers may come from the term nip-joint, US slang for an establishment that provided the odd nip for its customers way back in the days of prohibition. Nip joint appears to have some occasional more modern use, See Here.
  9. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    I have never heard of the expression 'nip-joint' - I'm thinking this is regional or something. Found here:
    "Nip" of alcohol is somewhat old-fashioned, usually from a metal flask, offered covertly, in cold weather, for 'medicinal' purposes. ;)
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Indeed, preferably, oh, let's say 16 years old?
    Medicinal, perhaps, but not available on prescription.
  11. Badger1957 New Member

    Scotland - English; lalland Scots
    By 'England' I assume you mean 'Britain' we Scots, the Welsh and Northern Irish tend to get rather annoyed at the failure of foreigners to comprehend the difference.

    'Nip was once a common 'middle english word describing a small amount of alcohol. In all probability it comes from nippen which id German/Dutch in origin. Today it is used exclusively in Scotland and there only to describe a measure of whisky Usually a 1/4 or a 1/5th of a gill (uk or 28/35ml) n.b. in Scotland 'whisky' is whisky no one here refers to whisky as 'Scotch', we leave that to the English and North Americans. The Irish also have some fine whiskeys (note spelling) but no-one says: "I'll have an 'Irish'", Irish people and non Irish people asking for Irish whiskey will, generally, ask for it by its trade name e.g. Bushmills.

    I hope this is of some help.
  12. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    If I read, "Say, Lassie, would you care to share a nip with me." I would expect that the conversation was in England (or Scotland, Wales, Ireland, etc.), and not in the USA.
  13. Badger1957 New Member

    Scotland - English; lalland Scots

    Sorry, Packard, but if you heard Say, "Lassie, would you care to share a nip with me" (by the way,why no question mark?) it would be Scotland or uttered by a Scot or by someone lampooning the Scots - no one else would use this phraseology. In fact since it is so Brigadoon I would go for someone lampooning.

    I'm assuming from your lack of knowledge of the dialects of English spoken in Britain that you've not been here or, if you have, you' have not travelled extensively.
  14. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    I find nothing odd or unusual in my New York version of AE about "nip" meaning "a drink of alcohol".

    What's with Grandma -- has she been nipping at the cooking sherry?

    He likes to go have a nip after work with his buddies.

    I suspect the Southern Baptist ladies like a nip or two now and then, but just don't admit it.
  15. Michael_Boy Member

    Could you write any synonyms for this phrase?
    By the way,can I use this phrase when I want somebody to have a sip of water or is it only for food?
  16. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I only know "to have a nip" to mean "to hava small drink of liquor."

    "To have a bite (to eat)" means to have a small snack. Perhaps that's what you were thinking of?
  17. Michael_Boy Member

    Hmm.....So To Have A Nip and To have a bite don't have the same meaning?
  18. Lexiphile Senior Member

    England English
    James has already given the meaning, so here are the synonyms that come to mind:
    To have a sip of.... (coúld be anything, not just liquor)
    To have a shot (English, I think)
    To have a short (American, I think)
    To have a wee dram (Scottish, definitely)

    The problem with all of these is that the size of the drink is indeterminate. Stictly speaking, a nip is a sip or two, a shot is usually a sixth of a gill, a short is a jigger, and a wee dram can be anything up to a bottle or two.
  19. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    No, they don't, in my experience. You could say "have a nibble" to mean a small amount of food.
  20. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    UK English (& rusty French…)
    Hi Michael

    Synonyms for “nip”, as in ‘portion of liquid’ (since you mention water)?

    To take a nip

    As a noun:
    A… dosage, dram, draught, fill, fix, hit, lot, measure (measurement), potion (perhaps), small quantity, share, shot, slug, spoonful, sip, small swallow, gulp
    As a verb:
    To… slug, sip, take a small swallow, gulp, wet one whistle, gulp,

    To nip means also to take a small bite, but is usually used only for animals (i.e. a puppy nips at your ankles)

    Note that there are many other meanings for “nip”
  21. Michael_Boy Member

    Thanks a lot everybody for your answers!

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