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Dutch courage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dutch courage, also known as pot-valiance or liquid courage, refers to courage gained from intoxication with alcohol.[1]



Alcohol is occasionally used by criminals as a tool to commit alcohol-related offenses. These may include alcohol-facilitated sexual assaults, drunk driving, thefts (for example motor vehicle thefts), or alcohol-fueled robberies and violent crimes. However, Dutch courage defense is not a valid intoxication defense.

Consuming alcohol prior to visiting female sex workers is a common practice among some men.[2] Also, sex workers often resort to using drugs and alcohol to cope with stress. However, female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries have high rates of harmful alcohol use, which is associated with increased risk of unprotected sex and sexually transmitted infections.[3]


A British soldier drinks a pint of beer on returning from a deployment to Afghanistan.

Alcohol has a long association of military use, and has been called "liquid courage" for its role in preparing troops for battle. It has also been used to anaesthetize injured soldiers, celebrate military victories, and cope with the emotions of defeat.

Military and veteran populations face significant challenges in addressing the co-occurrence of PTSD and alcohol use disorder. While existing interventions show promise, more research is needed to evaluate their effectiveness for this specific population, and new tailored interventions should be developed and evaluated to better meet their unique needs.[4]


The popular story dates the etymology of the term Dutch courage to English soldiers fighting in the Anglo-Dutch Wars[5] (1652–1674) and perhaps as early as the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). One version states that jenever (or Dutch gin) was used by English soldiers for its calming effects before battle, and for its purported warming properties on the body in cold weather. Another version has it that English soldiers noted the bravery-inducing effects of jenever on Dutch soldiers.[6][7]

Gin is a Dutch invention, and was first distilled in Holland in the 16th century. The flavouring in gin comes from juniper berries. The Dutch word for 'juniper' is 'jenever', which got Anglicised to 'ginever' and then finally to 'gin'.[7] Gin would go on to become popular in Britain thanks to King William III of England (William of Orange, r. 1689–1702), who was also Stadtholder of the Netherlands.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Where does the phrase 'going Dutch' originate?". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  2. ^ Yang C, Latkin C, Luan R, Nelson K (February 2013). "Factors associated with drinking alcohol before visiting female sex workers among men in Sichuan Province, China". AIDS and Behavior. 17 (2): 568–573. doi:10.1007/s10461-012-0260-8. PMC 4017933. PMID 22806054.
  3. ^ Beksinska A, Karlsen O, Gafos M, Beattie TS (2023). "Alcohol use and associated risk factors among female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis". PLOS Global Public Health. 3 (6): e0001216. doi:10.1371/journal.pgph.0001216. PMC 10263362. PMID 37310993.
  4. ^ Dworkin, ER; Bergman, HE; Walton, TO; Walker, DD; Kaysen, DL (2018). "Co-Occurring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder in U.S. Military and Veteran Populations". Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. 39 (2): 161–169. PMC 6561402. PMID 31198655.
  5. ^ "Dutch". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989.
  6. ^ Byrne, Eugene (26 July 2013). "What is the origin of the phrase 'Dutch Courage'?". History Extra. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  7. ^ a b Martin, Gary. "Dutch courage". Phrases. UK. Retrieved 26 December 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Discovery Channel's "How Do They Do It"
  • Andrews, S (2007). "Textbook Of Food & Beverage Management", Tata McGraw-Hill (264).