What's the verb for "to drink small amounts of drink" (especially to enjoy it as slowly and long as possibly)? What's the drinking equivalent of "nibble"?

  • 7
    Did you try googling for "drink slowly", etc?
    – Fiksdal
    Nov 30, 2016 at 16:51
  • 1
    @Fiksdal Did you? A Google search for to drink small amounts of drink especially to enjoy it as slowly and long as possibly returns one decent result, a MacMillan Dictionary page called To drink in a particular way - synonyms or related words, which lists 28 words but does not include savor or other synonyms such as imbibe. Nov 30, 2016 at 17:16
  • 6
    @AlanCarmack Yes, I did try googling that. I did not mean to imply very much by it, I merely wanted to know what research OP had done. And yes, askers here are indeed expected to do some research before asking, and to include that in OP when relevant. (Failing to do so is actually a canned close-reason here.) This question as asked strikes me as perhaps better suited for ELL. Anyway, not a big deal.
    – Fiksdal
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:32
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    Actually, this question may be off-topic after all. Normally I don't expect to get useful results on Google if I have to use a long phrase to describe the concept I'm looking for. In fact, I've failed several times when I tried to search for "slit skirt", "earmuffs", "throw a tantrum", "repeat a year", etc. It's totally understandable on my part if the question should be closed. Dec 1, 2016 at 13:13
  • 1
    @Vun-HughVaw I think it would have been on-topic if you included the research you had done :)
    – Fiksdal
    Dec 1, 2016 at 16:48

5 Answers 5


sip is the common word, but it does not denote 'to enjoy it as slowly and long as possibly'. For that, I suggest savor (UK: savour)

Taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it to the full

He has dinner and actually savors the wine, rather than drinking to get drunk.


Enjoy or appreciate (something pleasant) to the full, especially by lingering over it

(Oxford Dictionaries)


Drink (something) by taking small mouthfuls.

‘I sat sipping coffee’ ‘she sipped at her tea’

(Oxford Dictionaries)

You can definitely savor a good cup of coffee. A difference is this: if your coffee is hot, you can use she sipped her coffee because it was hot but you wouldn't really say she savored her coffee because it was hot. You'd say she savored her coffee because it was delicious.

sip is also a occurs as a noun, meaning

A small mouthful of liquid (Oxford)

And we say stuff like take a sip (very common) and have a sip. She took a sip of wine is equal to she sipped her wine (one time).

Thesaurus.com lists these synonyms for sip (verb):

drink in, extract, imbibe, partake, quaff, sample, savor, sup, swallow, taste, toss

Only savor includes the notion of enjoy as part of its definition. Quaff means to 'drink (alcoholic beverages) heartily' but does not include the sense of slow enjoyment. In fact, it can be more of an antonym, since 'drink heartedly' can entail drinking quickly.

  • 14
    Off-topic, maybe, but I always liked Terry Pratchett's definition of quaff: It's like drinking, but you spill more.
    – Pat J
    Nov 30, 2016 at 16:37
  • 1
    Love me some Pratchett @PatJ Nov 30, 2016 at 16:52
  • 2
    I appreciate the valuable usage of citations from reliable references in the answer. +1
    – user66974
    Nov 30, 2016 at 22:22
  • 3
    Quick tip, "quaff" means to drink heartily, not exactly a synonym of "sip".
    – Lizahrd
    Dec 1, 2016 at 2:29
  • 1
    @Lizahrd I didn't list it as a synonym of tip, Thesaurus.com did. In fact it's more of an antonym, since drink heartedly can entail drinking quickly. Dec 1, 2016 at 2:32

Another verb would be nurse. From Dictionary.com, usage #11 as a verb:

to use, consume, or dispense very slowly or carefully: He nursed the one drink all evening.

  • 12
    To me, nurse implies that he's making the drink last because a) he doesn't like it or b) he doesn't want to buy another. (Or, if it's an alcoholic drink, c) because he has to drive home and doesn't want to be drunk when he does.)
    – Pat J
    Nov 30, 2016 at 16:39
  • 5
    or d) he was born yesterday. Nov 30, 2016 at 18:17
  • 3
    @PatJ I partly agree. To nurse is to proceed slowly with something. Usually this is associated with consuming small amounts, but amount is not really defined as small or otherwise. I would consider it a good answer, but I think sip is better.
    – Suncat2000
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:28

To sip conveys the idea:

  • to drink, taking only a very small amount at a time:
    • This tea is very hot, so sip it carefully. She slowly sipped (at) her wine.

Cambridge Dictionary


To Sup "take (drink or liquid food) by sips or spoonfuls."


  • 7
    Appropriate username.
    – Tuesday
    Nov 30, 2016 at 22:29

Other than the words sip and sup, you may want something else. I was thinking you could use a regular drinking word that could be used as what you are asking for and just the definition of "drink". Here are some examples:

He drank his beverage drop by drop until it was drained.

She took a hint of her coffee.

They had a small portion of their precious water.

Hopefully these words don't go too far.

  • 1
    Your first two sample sentences are both rather unidiomatic. The first one is outright ungrammatical -- "he drank his beverage drop by drop" is slightly better.
    – user89175
    Dec 1, 2016 at 3:28
  • @duskwuff Then I shall edit it.
    – Anibanani
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:09
  • "drop by drop of" is still not grammatical.
    – user89175
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:10

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