I drank of the jar.

Is this 'of' an old usage?
But I can't find the proof for that.

  • Here's some dead obvious "proof" Probably the only reason it hasn't actually "flatlined" by now is that old texts (especially bibles) get quoted in more recent publications. – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '14 at 6:01
  • @FumbleFingers Today's language borrows freely and liberally from "old texts (especially bibles)". Also, the expression is not that rare today. See 1988, 1993 in my answer. – Kris Mar 6 '14 at 9:00
  • Btw, never treat ngrams as "proof". :) – Kris Mar 6 '14 at 9:17
  • More commonly, the receptacle containing the beverage imbibed is indicated by the preposition with, or the compound preposition out of: “He always drinks milk out of/from a glass”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 6 '14 at 12:10

This tends to be an older usage.

It's not hard proof, but you will find a comparison of different versions of the same bible verse here of varying degrees of antiquity.

They compare a line in the book of Genesis

And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent."
-King James Bible published 1611

Many of the newer versions of the bible use the line:

He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.
-New International Version published 1978 and revised since.

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  • As OED says, Const. of (rarely upon) the liquid or source of supply. lit. and fig. to drink of the cup of sorrow , etc. So it could feasibly be used of a "jar". But you wouldn't see it often today except in outdated bibles. – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '14 at 5:59
  • @FumbleFingers I would be careful calling any bible outdated, unless you do mean it as Muslim rhetoric... ;) – oerkelens Mar 6 '14 at 9:45
  • @oerkelens Don't get us Jews started … we gave you a book and you wrote all over it! – David M Mar 6 '14 at 12:17
  • You didn't give me no book! – oerkelens Mar 6 '14 at 12:55
  • 1
    @oerkelens: From my point of view, the mere existence of bibles is "outdated", but that's not what I meant. I was simply agreeing with David that the "drank of" usage is generally recognised as outdated, and therefore "modern" contemporary bibles avoid it. If it's in any recently-printed bible, that will only be because the text of that particular version hasn't been revised in generations. Basically, it never occurs in any contemporary text except where deliberate archaism is intended. – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '14 at 14:06

This usage of of relates to the stuff that is consumed, not the container -- the "jar" I suppose symbolically represents its contents here (the context should make it clear).

The closest dictionary definition of contemporary use is:

of 7 Indicating the relationship between a verb and an indirect object

You can find its use in literature.

Sacred hot springs making a comeback in Europe, NPR_Sunday, 2002:

Mr-MOLDOVEANA: These waters were mysterious. If you drank of normal waters, which was transparent and fresh, and all of a sudden, you will find a water which is reddish or greenish, boiling, foul-smelling, you will be inclined to think that this is monstrous water, this is a force directed against you, against your well-being.

The swamp of dreams, Harper's Magazine, 1993:

After eating these, he drank of the cool water of a shallow brook, then washed his face, further clearing his mind.

Warriors of Christendom, 1988:

… he took of that balsam and of that myrrh as much as a little spoon-full, and mingled it in the cup with rose-water and drank of it; …

War in high heels, 1993:

Later, Jacqui met her kiss for kiss in their lovemaking; even taking the initiative as they drank of each other 's bodies.


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  • 1
    You're not seriously going to advance that "Mr-MOLDOVEANA" citation as "literature", are you? It's complete drivel, with tenses bouncing around all over the place! – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '14 at 5:53
  • Uh, I agree with Kris that the verb phrase "drink of the" should be, or at least typically is, followed by a noun phrase meaning a liquid (or perhaps a body of liquid): drink of the wine (or perhaps drink of the stream). To me, it is not followed by a noun phrase meaning a container: drink of the wine bottle. (But I'm no expert on this stuff. Just sounds wrong.) – Drew Mar 6 '14 at 6:31
  • @FumbleFingers The tenses are firmly in place. Check again. :) – Kris Mar 6 '14 at 8:57
  • 1
    Switching from past to future for no apparent reason and using a singular verb with a plural noun counts as “firmly in place”? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 6 '14 at 12:11

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