Seeing pink elephants

Seeing pink elephants

"Seeing pink elephants" is a euphemism for drunken hallucination, caused by alcoholic hallucinosis or delirium tremens. The first recorded use of the term is by Jack London in 1913, who describes one sort of alcoholic in the autobiographical "John Barleycorn" as "the man whom we all know, stupid, unimaginative, whose brain is bitten numbly by numb maggots; who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter, and who sees, in the extremity of his ecstasy, blue mice and "pink elephants". He is the type that gives rise to the jokes in the funny papers." [ [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=pink "pink"] Online Etymological Dictionary] London may have derived his metaphor from the 1890s saying "being followed by pink giraffes". [ [http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19980826 "pink elephants"] Maven's Word of the Day, Random House]

A reference to pink elephants occurs in the 1941 Disney animated classic "Dumbo". Dumbo, having taken a drink of water from a bucket spiked with moonshine, begins to hallucinate singing and dancing "Pink Elephants on Parade".

The association between pink elephants and alcohol is reflected in the name of various alcoholic drinks. The "Pink Elephant" cocktail, made with vodka, grenadine, galliano and orange juice, [ [http://www.nextrecipe.com/drinks/cocktails/p/pinkelephant.php Pink Elephant cocktail recipe] at NextRecipe.com] [ [http://www.barnonedrinks.com/drinks/p/pink-elephant-3861.html Pink Elephant cocktail recipe] at Bar None Drinks] is referenced in the chorus of the Madonna song 'Dear Jessie', which starts with the phrase "Pink elephants and lemonade". The Strong Bad Email episode "nightlife" features the fictitious "Pink Elephant Pants" drink. [ [http://www.hrwiki.org/index.php/nightlife "nightlife" transcript] ] The Huyghe Brewery in Melle, Belgium features a pink elephant on the label of its Delirium Tremens beer and as a mouse cursor on its website. [ [http://www.delirium.be/Anglais/Histoire/histoire.htm History of the Huyghe Brewery] ]

References


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