Is there a single word to describe the feeling of thirst/dryness when hungover?

I'm translating a song from Russian and just 'hangover' will probably work, but i'm wondering if there's maybe a slang word for this specifically.

  • 1
    There are some choice phrases here: The Language of Hangovers. There aren't many idioms concerning thirst, but "wooden mouth" and "mouth like a fur boot" are quite good, Alas, there are no single-word terms.
    – Mick
    Dec 8, 2016 at 9:25
  • 1
    There is also fur-tongued.
    – Mick
    Dec 8, 2016 at 9:45
  • Oo, thank you! Love the expressions, and that article was sure a fun read.
    – jen sa
    Dec 8, 2016 at 10:11
  • I've asked some friends for suggestions. If they come back to me, I'll pass them on.
    – Mick
    Dec 8, 2016 at 10:13
  • 1
    Are you looking for an informal term.?
    – user66974
    Dec 8, 2016 at 10:40

6 Answers 6


I’ve often heard the term cotton mouth to describe this phenomena.

The Oxford learner’s dictionary labels this as US informal. An online wellness article indicates that the chief symptom of cotton mouth is "a severely dry mouth” and says that one way to avoid it is by limiting your alcohol intake.

I’m not sure how widely recognizable this term might be outside of the U.S., but it might work well as slang in a song lyric. It even has the same number of syllables as hangover, so it might be an easy fit for you.

  • +1 wanted to add that this is alluding to how dry your mouth would be with cotton balls in it
    – DCShannon
    Dec 8, 2016 at 21:13
  • In my experience, cotton mouth has the connotation of being caused by cannabis smoking.
    – chbaker0
    Dec 8, 2016 at 23:28
  • @chbaker0 - I think it’s most commonly associated with that, yes.
    – J.R.
    Dec 9, 2016 at 0:49
  • In my experience a cottonmouth is something you find crawling through the weeds.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 9, 2016 at 3:58
  • Similar to this, I've heard fuzz mouth and fuzzy mouth.
    – Brian
    Dec 11, 2016 at 6:38

I'm not aware of a single word, a common UK phrase however is to

have a mouth like the bottom of a parrot's cage

I can't find a definition of it as such but there are plenty of examples online where the meaning is clear from context. It conveys both thirst and the way everything tastes vile when you wake up with a hangover. Like the bottom of a parrot's cage because it's dry and covered in...crap.

  • 4
    Probably can't cram it in a song but this is delightfully colorful, thank you.
    – jen sa
    Dec 8, 2016 at 10:24
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    @jensa There is also 'rough as a badger's arse' to refer to the general feeling of being hungover. google.co.uk/… Again, difficult to fit into a song... :)
    – Spagirl
    Dec 8, 2016 at 12:05
  • 1
    Why do I have a feeling Pratchett would've managed to get both of those into a song. Dec 8, 2016 at 13:49

The Scottish word drouth (rhymes with truth) would be appropriate here. It means thirst and depending on context can mean that specifically from a hangover. It also meets the criteria of being slang.

  • 2
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    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 8, 2016 at 17:33
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    I considered going for drouth, but most of the examples i could find were indicating that beer was about to be drunk, rather than had already been!
    – Spagirl
    Dec 8, 2016 at 23:39

Not what you asked for, but it might give you some ideas:

His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim


In New Zealand and Australia people sometimes talk of having the dry horrors.

  • I've seen & heard this term used to mean a dry mouth, but your link specifically (and exclusively) refers to 'the psychotic symptoms of withdrawal suffered by an alcoholic', which is an almost completely different thing.
    – Jeremy
    Dec 9, 2016 at 10:05
  • Yes, that is a very odd definition. I have never heard the term used to mean anything other than a dry mouth. Even the sample quotes seem to refer to dry mouth rather than psychoses. Dec 10, 2016 at 5:51
  • 2
    So why not link to a definition that supports the meaning you suggest?
    – Jeremy
    Dec 10, 2016 at 7:53
  • That's a good idea! The reason I don't do it is that I can't find one. Most usages I have found refer to the dry mouth, but the only actual definitions I have found from reputable sources (the above definition and one from a paper dictionary) basically define it as delerium tremens. So perhaps it's a bit ambiguous. Dec 10, 2016 at 20:51

If there is no word for you that fits, try to adopt the german word 'Brand'. Which is a metaphor to something like the following: my mouth needs water to fight the fire which burned my mouth to ashes due to alcohol use(of course it's technically a dehydration of your body). It's common to say that if your thirst is huge, regardless its reason is hangover or just too salty lunch.

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