I’m trying to determine the visual expression of ‘imbibing,’ with the presumption it describes a particular attitude or energy in the act of drinking. (I make this presumption because it gives reason for the word to exist. If it were functionally no different to the word ‘drinking,’ I surmise its only raison d’etre is to give authors a means to show off.)
The Oxford dictionary tells me it means ‘To drink (alcohol)’, and it provides synonyms including quaff, guzzle, gulp, slurp, swig, and chug. This gives me a picture of ‘imbibing’ as drinking with reckless abandon; an urgent dedication one has when they’re seeking to get to the loosened side of cognition as quickly as possible.
But I encountered in my reading (a fiction novel), a sedate scientist who had been ‘drawn by the blush of dawn to imbibe tea on the deck.’ This doesn’t gel with the above impression I surmised from Oxford. From the novel’s usage, I imagine the man’s ‘imbibing’ to be measured and purposeful; he’d taste the tea one small sip at a time, a quiet satisfied exhale following each swallow, before his experience repeated.
One does not tend to drink a cup of tea in the same way they drink a bottle of beer. When is it contextually proper to use the term ‘imbibe’?