Seeing pink elephants

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For other uses, see Pink elephant (disambiguation).

"Seeing pink elephants" is a euphemism for drunken hallucination, caused by alcoholic hallucinosis or delirium tremens. An early literary use of the term is by Jack London in 1913, who describes one kind 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."[1] But long before people were said to see "pink elephants," people were said to "see snakes" or "see snakes in one's boots."[2] Beginning in about 1890, writers started replacing, or supplementing, "snakes" with increasingly ridiculous colored animals; red, green, blue, pink, and multi-hued rats, monkeys, giraffes, elephants, or hippopotamuses.[citation needed] By 1905, the expression, "pink elephant," had emerged as the most common variant.[citation needed] A reference to pink elephants occurs in the 1941 Disney animated film Dumbo. Dumbo, having taken a drink of water from a bucket spiked with champagne, begins to hallucinate singing and dancing elephants in a segment known as "Pink Elephants on Parade".

Pink elephants do exist in nature, as it is possible for albino elephants to be pink, as well as white.[3]

In 2008, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin used the phrase "pink elephants" to refer to Pro-life Republican women such as herself, Carly Fiorina, Sue Lowden and Jane Norton.[4]

Product references[edit]

The association between pink elephants and alcohol is reflected in the name of various alcoholic drinks. The "Pink Elephant" cocktail is made with vodka, grenadine, galliano and orange juice.[5][6] The Huyghe Brewery in Melle, Belgium features a pink elephant on the label of its Delirium Tremens beer. [7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ pink Online Etymological Dictionary
  2. ^ "Randolph County Journal (Winchester, Indiana), page 1". June 10, 1858. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "BBC NEWS - Science & Environment - Pink elephant is caught on camera". bbc.co.uk. 
  4. ^ Spencer, Jean (14 May 2010). "Palin: ‘Look Out for Stampede of Pink Elephants'". The Wall Street Journal. 
  5. ^ Pink Elephant cocktail recipe at NextRecipe.com
  6. ^ Pink Elephant cocktail recipe at Bar None Drinks
  7. ^ Delirium Brewery. "Delirium Tremens". Delirium Tremens.