I received an email from Scotland with the word 'puggled' in it and had to look the word up, despite having been brought up in Scotland until the age of eighteen.

The OED states the meaning as 'tired' but then goes on to give several quotations in some of which the meaning is quite clearly 'drunk'.

Just Goggling comes up with Wiktionary telling me it is 'Scottish slang', may have a military background and means 'tired'.

Can anyone help with the usage and, perhaps, with the etymology ?

Poggle(d), puggled, ‘rattled’ as well as eccentric and mad-drunk, is a pre-war Regular-Army word. E. Partridge, Words, Words, Words! puggled, adj.

Oxford English Dictionary

puggled (comparative more puggled, superlative most puggled)

(Scotland) Fatigued, drained, exhausted. (UK, military, slang) Drunk.


As an aside, I remember a publication which, possibly to avoid litigation, would refer to someone being 'tired and emotional', those in the know interpreting the words to imply having had a few too many.

I wonder if the word 'puggled' is being used euphemistically, perhaps, hence a disparate meaning.

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    For 'tired and emotional', see this. Commented Apr 21 at 18:31
  • Can you quote the sentence from the email you received that contains this word? Context is very helpful for these kinds of questions.
    – zwol
    Commented Apr 22 at 14:44
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    @KateBunting thanks for that, I have never, ever heard that! I appreciate it is listed say here bbc.com/news/magazine-22470691 but it seems to be pretty archaic (well, IDK). The wikipedia entry seems more of a puff piece placed by a magazine, and is a bit odd as the example mentions are anti-euphemism utterances (eg "He'd been drinking and was tired and emotional." .. huh?) But, you learn something every day I guess. I am and/or was an alcoholic so I'm doubly surprised to have not heard this one :)
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 22 at 19:12
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    @zwol No, that was not my meaning. I meant - generally ; not specifically.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 22 at 21:13
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    @Fattie - Archaic? Well, it originated in the 1960s and was a pretty well-known euphemism in the late 20th century; still being used in the 21st according to the Wikipedia article. Commented Apr 23 at 7:45

2 Answers 2


Green's dictionary of Slang says "poggled"/"puggled" originally meant "crazy" or "mad", with the sense "drunk" coming later. It is from Hindi/Hindustani "pagal" meaning silly or mad, entering the English language from soldiers serving either in India or with Indians. The first citation is from 1922 in the Sheffield Independent:

Holland said, ‘It’s all right, sir, I am puggled.’ A detective informed the magistrate that ‘puggled’ was Hindustani for ‘silly’.

It also quotes a 1925 British dictionary of military slang:

Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 225: Poggle (also Puggle): (Hind.—Pagal). Mad.

Green dates the sense "drunk" to the 1930s, with the first citation Eric Partridge as in the OP.

Green doesn't mention it meaning "tired". The OED ("Exhausted, in a state of collapse; (also) wildly drunk.") cites as its earliest reference a different spelling from Roxburghshire in the Scottish Borders in 1923:

Pagart, a. Also pagard... Breathless: ‘A was fair pagard; A couldna rin another fitlenth.’ G. Watson, Roxburghshire Word-book 227

This is also in the Scottish National Dictionary which offers

The word is of recent slang orig., corresponding in form to Eng. army slang puggled, very drunk, said to be from Hindustani pagal, mad, furious, but it may be simply a euphemistic alteration of slang buggered, with sim. meanings, and poss. influenced by pauchle, puzzled, and the like.

Pauchle = to shuffle, hobble, etc, from late 19th century, Scottish Borders. SND suggests it's onomatopoeic although there may be other origins.

There might be some question as to whether Borders pagart has a different origin, but most authorities suggest not.

It's not surprising it would mean both drunk and tired, as with other words like "wasted" and "smashed" which can mean both intoxicated/inebriated and exhausted. (See e.g. Green.) Both can appear rather similar.

  • Interesting. Much appreciated.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 21 at 17:40
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    ? wasted and smashed rarely mean "tired" except in really specific situations. I'd say.
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 22 at 17:36

I was born and raised in Scotland, near Stirling, and I have only ever known the word puggled to mean tired. Always in the sense of severely physically fatigued, not sleepy, like if you were to say "wiped out" or "knackered". It was in common usage the whole time I lived there (I left in 2009).

The pronunciation I'd use in my dialect is "pug-ult", but I remember fondly a foreign student at our school picking up on the word, it was great to hear him using it in his accent, rolling out all the letters.

I'm sorry I can't produce a higher quality answer, but Stuart F's well researched post really surprised me, I've never known the word to mean anything but tired and got the impression perhaps its use has changed over the years?

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    Completely agree. Scotland (like anywhere in the old world) is incredibly regional but I would have thought "knackered" (or just "beat" for Americans) is the meaning
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 22 at 17:35
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    Also note (from the question itself) The OED states the meaning as 'tired'
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 22 at 19:00
  • Have lived in Scotland all my life (many decades) and agree with you.
    – deep64blue
    Commented Apr 23 at 19:34

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