According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), "cockahoop," a long-obsolete word first recorded in 1529, comes from the phrase "to set the cock on the hoop," meaning "to turn on the tap and let the liquor flow; hence to drink without stint; to drink and make good cheer with reckless prodigality." By extension it means to abandon oneself to reckless enjoyment to the point of disorder.

What effect does Beerbohm produce by using such a word that is simultaneously a coarse, slang expression and yet very archaic, even precious?

Last modified 4 April 2005