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Six ways to say you've had too much to drink in Italian

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Six ways to say you've had too much to drink in Italian
While Italians may have a reputation for drinking alcohol in moderation, not everyone in the country lives up to the ideal. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Ever wondered what Italians say when they’ve had one too many? Here are six of the most common phrases to use.


Italians may have a reputation for enjoying their drinks in small, sophisticated amounts, but the reality is that not everyone in the country manages to quite live up to this ideal.

And, as a highly creative and evocative language, Italian has some unique expressions for when the local drinking sessions get out of hand. 

So, without further ado, here are six ways to say that you’ve had one too many in Italian.


Bere troppo

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re looking for a no-frills way to say that you’ve had too much, you can just say that…well, you’ve had too much. 

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Ho bevuto troppo is the easiest and more immediate way to express that you may have slightly overestimated yourself this time around.

Stai bene?
Insomma. Mi sa che ho bevuto troppo
Are you ok? 
Not really. I think I’ve had too much.

Alzare il gomito

Alzare il gomito is, literally speaking, the equivalent of the English ‘bending the elbow’.

This is largely considered one of the more polite and socially acceptable ways to say that you overdid it with the booze. 

Prosecco being poured into flutes

'Alzare il gomito' is considered one of the most polite ways to say that you had too much to drink. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

We're not advising that you randomly volunteer that sort of information during your next business meeting, but should you, for whatever reason, have to explain such an unfortunate event in a formal situation, that’s the best way to go about it.

Credo di aver alzato il gomito ieri sera. Mi scuso con tutti i presenti.
I think I had one too many last night. Apologies to anybody present.


Things haven’t quite spiralled out of control at this stage. Life is good and you’re entertaining friends and fortunate bystanders with a corker of a monologue on the flaws of Elon Musk’s Mars mission.


An Italian would probably describe this stage as being brillo, which is the most immediate translation of the English ‘tipsy’.

Sono un po’ brillo.
I’m fairly tipsy.


The situation has definitely taken a turn for the worse here and what was once a jolly evening is now quickly turning into an ordeal. 

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Sono sbronzo, which roughly corresponds to the English ‘I’m wasted’, isn’t so much of a statement about one’s own condition as it is a painful declaration of defeat.

Mi dispiace, ragazzi. Vado a casa. Sono sbronzo.
Sorry, lads. I’m going home. I’m wasted.


Ubriaco fradicio

Ubriaco fradicio literally means ‘soggy drunk’ and represents the last rung on the intoxication ladder. 

Few people are able to make much sense at this stage, so it’s unlikely that you’ll hear this directly from the drunk person in question.

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However, you might happen to hear semi-concerned friends or relatives use this expression when discussing how to best get the poor wretch out of their predicament.

E’ ubriaco fradicio. Qualcuno lo porti a casa.
He’s blind drunk. Someone get him home.

People at a bar in Italy

'Ubriaco fradicio', which literally means 'soggy drunk', is used to describe heavily intoxicated people. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Bere come una spugna

Last but not least, here’s an expression that Italians tend to use when recounting tales of their weekend frolics. 


Bere come una spugna literally means ‘to drink like a sponge’, which should be a clear enough metaphor as to what the central feature of their weekend was.

Ho bevuto come una spugna lo scorso sabato. Che serata pazza.
I drank like a fish last Saturday. What a crazy night it was.

Do you know any other Italian phrases that could be used to say you’ve had one drink too many? Share them with us in the comments section below.


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