Learn English – What does it mean to call someone a ‘drink of water’


What does it mean when you call someone a 'drink of water', like at the end of this clip from the Shawshank Redemption? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD07V7Lwacc

It's intended as an insult from the context, but what does it mean?

Best Answer

Meaning (of "long drink of water") is ambiguous, just generally meaning "tall", as reflected in answers here, though specific use can have connotations of "tall and attractive (man/woman)" or "lanky, gangly" (tall and awkward).

The origin appears to be Scottish, dating to Scots lang drink (1887), as suggested by the 1924 quote from Mo Nickels (MetaFilter), quoted by Little Eva.

The Dictionary of the Scots Language cites (at drink and lang):

The life and recollections of Doctor Duguid of Kilwinning, John Service, 1887, p. 103: “Stair had grown up into a great lang drink, and would faukled, as Robin Cummell said, if he fell.”

(I've put this at long drink of water at Wiktionary for reference.)

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