Is there any word, or short expression, to describe the stale-ish, alcoholic smell coming from someone who drank too much - particularly in the breath?

I'm looking for something more descriptive, and maybe visceral, than "drunken" in a line like "she avoided his drunken kiss".

Some further alternative including smelling like smoking-and-garlic-and-old-beer, for example, would be interesting too :).

  • She avoided his debauched and drink-sodden kisses!
    – WS2
    Nov 5 '15 at 18:15
  • Mhm... not quite, but you made me think that "drenched" can be a good beginning... Nov 5 '15 at 18:18
  • 2
    "...his breath reeked of alcohol" is your usual bog-standard phrase. Are you looking for that, or for something more creative?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 5 '15 at 18:29
  • 1
    Used with “kiss” these could possibly mean something much more pleasant, but with “breath” they might work: “100-proof breath”/”intoxicating breath.” But to get the added notion of “staleness” (or at least that of ‘smokiness’) you’d have to add something like “she avoided his 100-proof, pack-a-day kiss/breath.”
    – Papa Poule
    Nov 5 '15 at 19:03
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    If it's already understood that the guy is drunk, "ketone kiss" might work--it's sharper than, say "boozey bussing", so there's a potential perspective (narrative point of view) issue. Alternatively, maybe "acetone amors".
    – JEL
    Nov 5 '15 at 19:12

Let me offer "booze breath". Same thing as "alcohol breath", but has a nice ring to it due to alliteration.


[countable, usually singular, uncountable] (literary)
​a mass of air that is dirty and smells unpleasant

A miasma of stale alcohol hung around him.

[Oxford Learners Dictionary]

PS: This is a word I heard yesterday on a TV interview. I came across your post while searching for this word.

  • It's an unusual usage (Google have many duplicate hits). Usually confined to marshes (and fairly rare then too). Jan 7 at 19:12

Rank or rotten? "His rank/rotten breath repulsed her."

Or, "The sour bloom of decay wafted from his amorous maw." :-P


I've always enjoyed "crapulous", though it refers more to the state of being hung over than drunken.


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