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Three Sheets in the Wind

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Unsteady from over-drinking, as a ship when its sheets are in the wind. The sail of a ship is fastened at one of the bottom corners by a rope called a “tack;” the other corner is left more or less free as the rope called a “sheet” is disposed; if quite free, the sheet is said to be “in the wind,” and the sail flaps and flutters without restraint. If all the three sails were so loosened, the ship would “reel and stagger like a drunken man.”

Captain Cuttle looking, candle in hand, at Bunsby more attentively, perceived that he was three sheets in the wind, or, in plain words, drunk.”—Dickens: Dombey and Son.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Three
Three Bishoprics (The)
Three-Decker (A)
Three Chapters (The)
Three Estates of the Realm
Three Holes in the Wall (The)
Three Kings Day
Three-pair Back (Living up a)
Three-quarters or 3/4
Three R’s (The)
Three Sheets in the Wind
Three-tailed Bashaw
Three Tuns
Threshers
Threshold
Thrift-box
Throgmorton Street (London)
Through-stone (A)
Throw
Throw
Throw Up the Sponge (To)