Schluckspecht: When you drink unreasonable amounts of alcohol, Germans will call you a “swallowing woodpecker”

literally: “swallowing woodpecker” / meaning: boozer

According to the most recent studies, you can think of Germany as an all-year Oktoberfest with 83 million daily visitors. The average German (excluding children and non-drinkers) consumes an impressive 13.4 liters of pure alcohol per year. Converted into beer, that’s a gigantic 268 liters.

This puts us in fifth place out of 189 countries. So it’s fair to say that you can find some genuine Schluckspechte in this country—which are “swallowing woodpeckers” when you translate it literally. Woodpeckers literally peck wood to swallow the sap from the trees—and that’s probably how the word came to existence. The awesome-sounding alliteration will certainly have played its part in popularizing it.

Interestingly, there is also another ornithology-related name you can call a boozer, which is Schnapsdrossel (“hard liquor thrush”). At this point, it needs to be emphasized that German Schnaps and American Schnapps are not the same. The latter usually contains tons of sugar and only half of the alcohol that “real” Schnaps does. So a real German Schluckspecht is going to need twice as much of it.


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