Is there a one word substitute for the scenario below, and what is the politest way of saying it to another person or colleague?

I drink water from my bottle by touching my mouth

When someone wants to drink water from my bottle, I need to inform him/her in a polite way that I drank it by touching it with my mouth.

This is because some people are concerned about this thing, and I don't want to embarrass them.

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    I've had it in my mouth' (but this might not be considered too urbane in register). 'I've already drunk from that bottle'. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 14:41
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    I don't think there is a single word for this in English.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 14:51
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    What we need here is a colorful Aussie, eg, "Crikey, I've slagged all over that one mate! Sorry!"
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:54
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    The answer to the question is no. There is not a single word to convey the fact that you placed your mouth around the bottle, touching it with your lips. (Why does it seem that everyone is looking for a single word for everything? Ooohhmmmmm.)
    – Drew
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 16:27
  • 13
    Generally speaking, I would assume that the owner of the bottle had touched it with their mouth. I wouldn't feel the need to explicitly tell that to someone.
    – David K
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 20:14

13 Answers 13


"I drank straight from the bottle. Do you mind?"

  • 2
    Excellent. It makes clear one isn't wanting to hog the bottle for oneself and does not imply that one deliberately "poisoned the well", but at the same time it lets the other person politely decline to accept the bottle without giving offense.
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 17:27
  • (Slaps forehead) I used the exact same expression in the comments section. Damn! :) +1 Although I'd prefer: "I hope you don't mind" to "Do you mind?"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 3:28
  • LOL, Mari-Lou, please don't slap yourself on my account. :) Thank you for the suggestion. "I hope you don't mind" definitely sounds gentler to the ear.
    – Deepak
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 3:51
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    @Mari-Lou, "I hope you don't mind" has a higher risk of making someone who does mind unconfortable to admit it. Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 14:17

If you say you drank "from that bottle", with a slight accent on "from", most native English speakers will know what you mean.

  • 28
    You don't even need to emphasize "from". Nobody's going to think you meant "You can't have any of my Coke because I already poured some of it into a glass and drank from that" so "I drank from that bottle" can only really mean "I drank directly from the bottle". Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 20:14
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    in fact you'd sound weird if you did do this. "i already drank from that bottle." wha? if anything you'd emphasize drank.
    – user428517
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 21:36
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    @sgroves You're imagining an unnatural form of emphasis that is weird. If you say it to yourself normally, you'll catch that there's a natural form of emphasis you put on "from", that almost makes the "o" go away. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 23:15
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    @DavidSchwartz I suspect the emphasis varies regionally.
    – user867
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 2:24
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    @sgroves Get your own drank, that un's meyn. Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 3:06

I would substitute the verb drink with sip, the latter sounds more gentlemanly/polite and it implies you quenched your thirst directly from the bottle, instead of using a glass or a straw.

I'm sorry, I've already sipped from that bottle.

sip v. 1. drink (something) by taking small mouthfuls.

  • 4
    Damn that is smart ...
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:55
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    This is unnecessary finessing. "I already drank from it" is fine and has exactly the same connotations, except that it doesn't suggest you were being all dainty about taking a small amount at a time. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 19:13
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    @Mari-LouA "I drank from it" is not even in the slightest bit impolite and "I've already sipped from it" is not any more or less polite; it's just using fancier words. We're talking about the simple act of drinking from a bottle: it's not like we're defecating and need to tiptoe around the subject for fear of causing offence. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 20:10
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    @Mari-LouA I was focusing on the difference between "drink" and "sip". I agree that adding "I'm sorry" to the front does make it more polite and I should have made my comments clearer on that point. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 20:28
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    To my ears, "sipped" doesn't sound more polite, it sounds pretentious. Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 21:13

My suggestion is cooties:

"May I have some water?"
"Sure, if you don't mind my cooties."

The technical definition of cooties is body lice (Source: Merriam-Webster), but it is a term often tossed around on the playground to refer to any potential germ (usually from someone you don't want to socialize with).

In Great Britain, you could imply you have the lurgi instead.

  • 9
    'Cooties' are as real as the boogie monster. They're not 'body lice'. Cute way of putting it if you're in the USA/Canada, though. Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 13:12
  • That expression is common in my family as well, although like Django, I disagree with that it actually means "body lice"; it's just generic.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 14:52
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    For the UK you could say "germs" instead of "cooties".
    – dav_i
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 9:03
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    @cowls: Yack-a-boo!
    – jxh
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 15:11
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    I especially like this answer. It conveys the desired information, plus the childishness of the word "cooties" gently suggests that the concern is unwarranted. Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 5:41

Instead of simply stating that your mouth has touched the bottle, you could also suggest that the person should wipe it first.

"Can I have a sip of your water?"
"Sure, you might want to give it a bit of a wipe first though"



You could say "backwashed" in a joking manner (self-deprecating humor). "Backwashing" is slang for the beverage being contaminated by saliva, etc...

  • This is a good answer, but would benefit greatly with further elaboration. (What is back wash? How might you use it?)
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 22:21
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    Yuk! You are effectively admitting to spitting some of the water back into the bottle. That might be funny to some people, but it is definitely not polite. It would be useful if you want to make sure nobody wants to share your water. Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 8:06
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    @steveverrill: think about what happens when you stop drinking. You either form a barrier or you tip the bottle down. Generally speaking, some small amount of liquid that has been in contact with some part of your mouth (probably lips) ends up in the bottle, whether you admit it or not. Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 14:55
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    @steveverrill I believe I actually saw a Mythbusters or similar show trying to see which containers (cups, cans, etc) could be drunk from with the least backwash (by someone trying as hard as possible to avoid backwash). They found that unless they actually poured the liquid into their mouth from above with no lip-contact whatsoever, there was always at least some backwash. So I would suggest that you either completely stop sharing drinks or come to terms with the limitations of human mouths. Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 23:39
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    @KyleStrand of course it happens, and this is the OP's concern. But the question was how to politely (i.e. not graphically) advise someone of this. In the same way that there is no need to say "I'm going to the shitter for a dump, the turtle's head is poking out." That might be amusing to some, but it is not polite. Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 23:46

"Backwash" is the saliva than can enter the bottle inadvertently when you sip from it. You could say "It might have backwash in it." Alternately you can use the noun like a verb: "I might have backwashed it" in the sense of "I might have contaminated it (with my backwash)."


Slavery (not 'slavery' as in buying, selling and owning people)

Here's a link to the pronunciation of slaver.

If you are happy to have a single word that could be applied to something other than just a bottle but means that you have had your mouth on it and there may be traces of your saliva left on it then Slavery is a good candidate.

You can just say that single word Slavery and as long as it's clear that your intentions are to warn the other person of the possibility of spit-swapping then it should be understood.

OED1 (out of copyright) mentions befouled with slaver.

Slaver (from the same source) is Saliva issuing or falling from the mouth.


  • I think this choice will be passed over because it is a homograph of a word with a very bad connotation. I would choose slobbery instead (although it may be a transmutation of this word).
    – jxh
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 16:37
  • @jxh Homographs shouldn't matter in speech, but I'm sure you are right because nobody speaks on this site so almost everyone will read it as the other version of slavery.
    – Frank
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 16:52
  • @Frank As the primary goal of language is communication, I would think this word might be a little too obscure to most people to say in a casual context (without seeming awkward). Also, it's best if you speak in a polite manner on this site (i.e. don't make comments like "nobody speaks on this site").
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 4:04
  • @Stopforgettingmyaccounts... It's not obscure to me, it's a documented word, it's neither rare nor obsolete. I'm confused by your last sentence; I don't speak on this site, I write on it, I don't listen on this site, I read from it. I suppose one could use a text-to-speech program to hear what's written but I doubt it would get the pronunciation of slavery correct.
    – Frank
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 4:25
  • @Frank I'm basing my opinion that slavery, in the sense you are describing, is obscure by the social circles I have observed. Also, you're being overly literal... and cheeky.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 7:45

I would stress it in another way:

"Hey New@, can I have a drink from your bottle?"

"(Sure, Jane,) if you don't mind that I drank straight from the/that bottle"

Stress is not necessary, but if you want, you can stress whatever you like.

Probably 'straight' and 'that' would be more eligible than David's 'from'


I would probably say "I licked this bottle"

  • I was thinking the same thing. It's slightly facetious, since you probably didn't literally lick it, so the only risk is if it's a little less formal than the questioner wants. But it's polite, it gets across precisely the necessary information ("don't drink from this bottle if you're bothered by this kind of thing"), and it doesn't sound at all awkward. "I've licked that" is a common juvenile way to express "you can't eat it, it's mine now", so to avoid the connotation of refusing permission you could say something like "you can have some, but I've already licked it". Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 1:43
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    This isn;t polite, in fact it just makes you sound a bit crazy. If someone told me they licked the bottle id have images of them licking the side of the bottle up and down in a very odd and crazed manner
    – cowls
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 7:51

How about:

"I've had some of that . . . ."

. . . and optionally also displaying a physical gesture of acknowledgement towards said bottle?

The ball is then rightly returned back to the enquirers side of the court, it could then dually be presumed by all interested parties that any subsequent actions undertaken are wholly their own responsibility.


It's not a polite word,but "mouthed" is a single word for touching the bottle with your lips.


I have drunk from the bottle/I have (already) drunk out of it/I have already taken a sip from the bottle/I have drunk directly from the bottle/I have already drunk directly from the bottle.

I think 'directly' is the word that indicates a polite sense of caution.

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