Word of the day: pre-loading (in its alcoholic sense)

Pre-loading: "drinking cheap booze at home or in streets before going on to pubs and clubs"; "drinking heavily discounted alcohol before going out" (both definitions from the Addaction website)

I came across today's word of the day, 'pre-loading', in an article in thelondonpaper on Friday. The standfirst was Crackdown on 'pre-loading' drinkers and the body copy began:

A crackdown is being planned on 'pre-loaders' who get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before heading to the West End

The inverted commas suggest, of course, that thelondonpaper expects many of its readers to be unfamiliar with the word. Unfortunately I can't find a web version of the article to share with you.

Although 'pre-loading' (the word, not the activity!) is new to me, it has evidently been around for at least a couple of years as I've found a reference to it in a 4NI.co.uk article dating from August 2007.

Judging by that article, I wouldn't be surprised if the word 'pre-loading' (as it relates to drinking alcohol at home) was coined by UK-based drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction.

Pre-loading: a new meaning to 'homebrew'

However, 'pre-loading' isn't just found on this side of the Atlantic. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board website states in the brilliantly titled 'Pre-Gaming: An Exploratory Study of Strategic Drinking by College Students in Pennsylvania':

We defined pre-loading/pre-gaming as “the practice of drinking alcohol in a private setting prior to attending an organized event/social activity where alcohol might or might not be served."

So perhaps 'pre-loading' originated in American English and was then picked up and popularised by Addaction.

Incidentally, 'preloading' (without a hyphen) is also included in Urban Dictionary - although the entry only dates from January 2009. The entry for 'pregaming', in comparison, dates from February 2004.

It's also worth mentioning that the OED Online does include entries for 'preload' (noun and verb), 'preloaded' and 'preloading', but none of them (as far as I can tell) relate to alcohol consumption.

Anyone out there familiar with 'pre-loading' (or indeed, 'pre-gaming') in its alcohol-related sense? And again - I mean the word, not the activity...


Brian White said...

In the U.S., we call this "pre-gaming."

Brian White said...

Oops, obviously I've just been caught not reading all the way to the end of the post, where pre-gaming is addressed.

As far as being familiar with this, pre-gaming is pretty widely used in my experience, that experience consisting of college and being a twenty-something.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Don't worry, it was a bit of an epic post! The main reason that people in the UK pre-load is that booze is so expensive; in the US, I imagine that young drinkers might pre-game because they have trouble getting served when they are out (due to the stricter alcohol laws). Right?

Brian White said...

Well, there's some of that going on for sure, but the main point of pre-gaming here is the same as how you described it, to get loaded on cheap booze before hitting the bars.

Neil said...

Ah yes, who could forget the "Super Shandy Snakebite & Black" pre-going out drink from university.....

Kate said...

It's been common terminology within the pub trade for quite a while longer. The earliest reference I can find is from 1995 (last para):