I'm looking for a word to describe the act of drinking alcohol quickly / taking a shot. I need a formal (as these I deem informal) word akin to:

He chugged the beer.

She downed the shot.

Imbibed works generally in the context of alcohol but I don't think

She imbibed the shot

is accurate in this context.

  • 8
    Socrates gulped his hemlock quietly, regretting only that he would miss the second season of Peaky Blinders.
    – Drew
    May 1 '16 at 23:35
  • This list may be helpful: gulp synonyms. Ingurgitate seems formal enough.
    – herisson
    May 1 '16 at 23:55
  • 2
    "Gulp down" is about the best I can think of that is nominally formal and implies rapidly drinking the entire beverage.
    – Hot Licks
    May 2 '16 at 0:40
  • 2
    ‘Wretch’, I cried, ‘Thy God has lent thee / By these angels He hath sent thee / Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore! / Let me quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!’
    – tchrist
    May 2 '16 at 2:48
  • Gordon Sculled his whiskey before Peaky Blinders.
    – Autistic
    May 2 '16 at 12:11


: to drink a large amount of (something) quickly.


He quaffed the shot in one gulp, grimaced, and ordered another.

Moonlight in Vermont: A Novel

  • 4
    What an unusual usage. I wouldn't expect to see "quaff" used in relation to a single 25ml measure (a shot).
    – Richard
    May 2 '16 at 13:23

Describing the physical action required as opposed to the act of consummation conjures an effective image. When consuming a shot glass of alcohol quickly you are not sipping or even slurping it; you put it to your lips and throw your head back to splash the liquid into your mouth as quickly as possible.

He threw back a shot of whisky.

I don't know if that is within your scope of 'formal' but on the other hand, people aren't often 'throwing back a shot' at formal occasions.



to drink largely, to swig (A Dictionary of the English Language, By Samuel Johnson and John Walker; accessed via Google Books)


to swallow greedily or in large quantities [...]

Did You Know?
Most people are familiar with "regurgitate" as a fancy synonym for "throw up," but far fewer know of its rarer antonym "ingurgitate." It's a word as likely to turn up in a spelling bee as in a conversation, but it does see occasional use, both literal (as in "ingurgitating red wine") and figurative (as in "ingurgitating artwork"). "Regurgitate" and "ingurgitate" (as well as "gurgitate," an even rarer synonym of "ingurgitate," and gorge, meaning "to eat greedily") can be ultimately traced back to the Latin word for "whirlpool," which is "gurges."


Perhaps guzzle

Eat or drink (something) greedily:

we guzzle our beer and devour our pizza

(figurative) this car guzzles gas

Oxford Dictionaries Online

  • 1
    I'm guessing that guzzle isn't considered "formal" enough.
    – Hot Licks
    May 2 '16 at 1:03

He Skulled the beer.

Common Australian idiom

  • Can you add some references?
    – NVZ
    May 2 '16 at 7:16
  • 1
    I'm not sure that this fits the formal requirement!
    – Tom Fenech
    May 2 '16 at 10:24
  • I think the word is "scol" in AusEng.
    – 3kstc
    Jan 23 '17 at 2:53

In the immortal words of Kinky Friedman;

The aforementioned blower began ringing. I killed the shot, then collared the instrument. First things first.

  • 1
    The question specifically asked for a "formal" term; this is a highly colloquial usage.
    – user89175
    May 2 '16 at 20:39
  • @duskwuff - Because "quaff" is the more obviously formal? When OP accepted that, I felt that their request went straight out of the window.
    – Richard
    May 2 '16 at 20:44
  • 1
    I'd be inclined to agree with the OP. "Quaff" has a very long history - it appears in Shakespeare! - and is hence treated as more formal than modern idioms like this one. While I agree that some of the connotations aren't quite right, it's certainly the best fit I see here.
    – user89175
    May 2 '16 at 21:03

bolt (vt)

To eat hastily or without chewing. M-W

Doesn't apply specifically to drinking, but would be appropriate.

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