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I can say "I feed someone". Am I forced to say "I give someone a drink", or is there a single word for this (as in "I [verb] someone")? Unfortunately my thesaurus can't really help me.

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Maybe "quench"? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Aug 2 '11 at 17:32
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Drowned? Maybe I'm doing it wrong... –  Matt Эллен Aug 2 '11 at 18:08
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@Frustrated If you told me you "quenched someone"; I'd think it was a euphemism for killing them. –  wjl Aug 2 '11 at 20:56
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@Frustrated Yes, you quench thirst, but you also quench a rebellion or quench your lust. The connotation in either case is to subdue. So there's no problem with "I quenched their thirst", but if you quench people directly, I think you'll have a misunderstanding. =) –  wjl Aug 2 '11 at 21:03
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@Franz, do you really want me to fill you? –  Daniel Aug 3 '11 at 0:40

10 Answers 10

up vote 43 down vote accepted

I don't think there is a single transitive verb for "give drink to [someone]".

If that someone is an animal, you could use water, as in to feed and water a horse:

I didn't go anywhere the next day except up to Grandpa's to feed and water the horse and mule and Granny's chickens.

However, it's unlikely you would use this for a person; the phrase fed and watered refers almost exclusively to livestock, and watered, alone, more to plants, as in I watered the geranium today. It can be used humorously, for example, if you say to a host upon your arrival, to mean that you've already eaten, "No worries; we've already been fed and watered."

If that someone is a baby, you can also suckle them—but this word has even narrower application.

You might try a synonym of sorts for "give," and let the context fill in that a drink was given: (as waitstaff) I served her, I delivered his order; (at the table) I poured her some, I filled his glass.

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I propose we all use watered until it becomes standard usage. –  Matthew Read Aug 2 '11 at 21:07
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I do not mind being suckled. –  bobobobo Aug 3 '11 at 14:32
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I watered grandpa yersterday. –  apacay Aug 4 '11 at 14:20
    
+1 for "serve". –  Peter Shor Sep 4 '11 at 13:50

I would go with hydrate. You feed someone; you hydrate someone.

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Except "hydrate" has an understood technical meaning that involves a net gain of water in the body. You technically cannot "hydrate" with alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, because they cause a net loss of water. It also implies that you're pouring the drink into their mouth, similar to "hand-feeding". –  KeithS Aug 2 '11 at 17:44
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Recently learned that caffeinated drinks do not cause a "net loss", especially if you've built up some tolerance. Just sayin'... –  Jürgen A. Erhard Aug 2 '11 at 17:46
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@KeithS So you can't 'feed' someone celery because it's a net loss of calories? :) I agree it's not optimal, just don't see a better option yet. –  Fosco Aug 2 '11 at 17:48
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@Fosco: Excellent rejoinder! But I must say I think semantically, "hydrate" has much in common with "fatten up". Which I believe you cannot do with celery, even by force-feeding. –  FumbleFingers Aug 2 '11 at 17:59
    
I think this is the closest you're going to get. Sure, it's kind of technical-sounding, but water sounds weird if the beverage is going to be something other than water (I dunno, maybe in the American South you could do a little better with coke???). In addition, I would rather sound too scientific than risk implying that the drink recipient is livestock. Or a plant. –  John Y Aug 2 '11 at 21:07

I'm going to say there isn't a single transitive verb for "to give someone drink" as there is for "to give someone food". The word "water" can be used as a transitive verb in the context of caring for animals, as in "feeding and watering the horses". The same term "fed and watered" is sometimes used in the context of people, but the verb "watered" for supplying drink virtually always follows being fed; if you were to hear of someone "watering" someone else the immediate mental picture is of spraying them with a hose or sprinkler like a lawn or garden.

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I think "hydrate" is a bit technical/medical-sounding. The normal verb is simply water. The vast majority of several thousand NGram hits here for "feed and water the" will be using "water" as a verb, and juxtaposed with "feed" they'll also mostly mean "give drink to" (i.e. - not for washing). .

Granted, "water" in this sense invariably does pair with "feed", and it's usually applied to animals rather than people. But I think unless you accept this word, you have to say we don't actually have a liquid equivalent to "feed" in common parlance.


Per John Lawler's answer here, and Benjamin's answer below, there was a time when drench would have been indisputably correct for OP's context. I wouldn't endorse such usage today, but it's worth noting the first definition in OED...

Verb 1 trans. To make to drink; to administer drink to; now spec. to administer a draught of medicine in a forcible manner to (an animal).

...and also worth flagging up several hundred written instances of feed and drench in Google Books.

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Approaching this question etymologically:

"Feed" is not related to "eat" because the former originally means to "foster", "nourish" or "protect". See Etymonline's entry for feed.

Similarly "nourish" has cognates in French "nourrir" (to feed) and "nourriture" (food), but notice how "nourrice" (nanny) refers to the woman who looks after (and used to give milk to) a child. In fact, it is said one "feeds milk to a baby" or "breast-feed", hence it is applicable to liquids too.

It is possible the word "food" narrowed down to non-liquid edibles in time, but in the field of nutrition, "food" refers to drinks as well. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food

Funnily enough, the PIE root of "feed" is *PA- and is also found in Sanskrit as two synonyms √pā which can either mean "to protect" (3rd person indicative present pāti) or "to drink" (3rd person indicative present pibati). See: http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/monier/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0612-pazubandhaka.jpg

Etymologically speaking again, "to drench" relates more to "to drink" see: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=drench

So in fact it is not so much "to drink" as it is "to eat" that is in need of a causative. :)

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This is quite belated, but I would just like to point out that the two Sanskrit roots (pā- ‘protect’ and pā- ‘drink’) are not from the same root. ‘Protect’ is from the PIE root *peh₂- (> _*pā-) also found in the word for ‘protector (> father)’, Gk./Lat. pater, Eng. ‘father’; while ‘drink’ is from the root *peh₃- (> *pō-) found in Lat. pōtiō ‘potion’, Gk. πέπωκα ‘I have drunk’, etc. This does not change your main point, of course, it just removes the need to bring in the ‘protect’ word at all. :-) –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 23 '13 at 21:00

If you'll allow for new coinages, I think embibe could fit nicely. To imbibe is to drink; en-/em- as a prefix can signify conversion into a state (embolden). To be made to have drunk. :)

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"Nurse" could be very appropriate, as could "feed".

Nurse, verb, to feed from the breast.

Note that milk is liquid, and so therefore, "feed" and "nurse" are appropriate.

"Nurse" is a bit specialized for the purpose of this meaning, but it works all the same.

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Nurse is indeed very specific; it doesn't mean "give drink to [someone]." –  kiamlaluno Nov 3 '11 at 20:27

I have heard "quench" used this way:

When I was hungry, you fed me... When I was thirsty, you quenched me...

From a song we used to sing at the Christian school.

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I think this is based on Matthew 25:35. The King James version renders that (according to a random online source) as "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in". It might be interesting to look at other translations. I suspect, thought, that you would find that they, and your hymn, if they quench anything, quench thirst. –  Tom Anderson Aug 3 '11 at 13:17

The word slake is usually used in the context slake one's thirst

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Slake is a good word. But you slake the thirst (or lime), not the person, so it's not quite an equivalent. –  Tom Anderson Aug 3 '11 at 13:13

"Eat" is to "feed" as "drink" is to "feed", "drink", or nothing, depending upon the context.

"To feed" is a pretty versatile verb and can be used in several different ways. Some of the examples directly related to eating include:

  1. Transitive verb - to give food to: "I fed the food to the animal"
  2. Transitive verb - to provide sustenance to: "The grass fed the animals."
  3. Intransitive verb - to consume food: "The animals fed." or "The animals fed upon the food."

When talking about drinking rather than eating, you can find examples of people using the term feed, for meanings similar to 1 (e.g. "I fed the milk to the baby."), and drink for meanings similar to 3 (e.g. "The animals drank."). I do not know of an equivalent for meaning 2.

As others have offered, "water" can be used when talking of animals, and "hydrate" could be used at a stretch for humans but seems rather unnatural.

I think we should invent a word, and I vote for either "to libate", or "to embeverage" :)

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