There is this adjective order rule which is usually stated as opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose or OSASCOMP, but "drunk" doesn't really fit any of these categories. There are of course various modified rules but they don't quite agree, and OSASCOMP is not an absolute unbreakable rule anyway.

So, old drunk man or drunk old man?

Does the answer change if you replace "old" with "40 years old"?

  • I think it really depends on the context and the intent. Either could work. "You're just a drunk old man" seems more usual. – Jim Nov 28 '19 at 21:12
  • Whichever. It's a matter of personal choice. – Hot Licks Nov 28 '19 at 21:25
  • The meaning changes depending on the order. Choose who you are referring to: one of the old men or one of the drunk men? Which meaning do you want to emphasize? – user1602 Nov 28 '19 at 23:47

"An old drunk man" sounds like a drunk man that has become old, or is selecting the old person from a group of drunk people.

"A drunk old man" sounds like an old man that has become drunk, or is selecting the drunk person from a group of old people.

The "drunk old man" is the situation most frequently encountered.


Consider using only one of the adjectives...

You're an old man:

You're a drunk man (N.B. not "You're a drunk, man")

The first is idiomatic; often heard. The second sounds strange. It makes sense, of course, but when and how might you hear it being said? Rarely, it seems to me.

I think your OSASCOMP rules apply - in my opinion you're drunk, old man.

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