• to engage in a drunken celebration
  • to drink alcohol deeply and frequently


  • a drunken revel


It's 7 o'clock on New Year's Eve. You're decked in your most festive attire—sparkly red dress, black heels with sheer stockings, and winged eyeliner to complete the look. You grab a bottle of champagne and bring it to the register, hand the cashier $30. "How are you planning to ring in the New Year?" he asks you. So you tell him your plans to carouse with some friends, to party the night away with drinks and toasts to a new year full of happiness and good company. Carousing is all about that—the occasion, the thrill, and (generally) the drinking.

You think back to the past semester at school, all of the carousing you did with your roommates after your 21st birthday—the college parties, the city bars, the cheap clubs in your college town. A carouse is a drunken event or celebration, with rowdy partiers and excited voices mixing into a cacophony of exuberance. To carouse, you most likely will attend a carouse. Much like, to party, you go to a party.

But a carouse is not just a simple get-together. Take a birthday party for example; the gathering may be a family event with cake and presents—but that is not a carouse. In order to be classified as such, it must include some sort of alcohol intake. So, say, if that family birthday celebration were to include wine and beer, it would be a carouse. The family would be carousing.

Sometimes, a carouse is the simple process of intoxication, rather than the event itself. You can carouse without attending a specific celebration. This may involve drinking at home or with a small group of friends rather than at a shindig.


In the 1550s, garouse, known as carous in Middle French, was a popular word meaning "to drink; fully out" or "drain the cup"; in other words, to finish a drink. A few drunken hiccups later, carouse existed in the English language.

Derivative Words

Carousal: This noun form means a party involving alcohol.

Example: Kris and his friends hit the bars for a carousal the night before Thanksgiving.

Carouser: This noun form means a drinker, someone who consumes heavy amounts of alcohol.

Example: The carouser always challenges his friends to drinking games.

Caroused: This is the preterit of carouse.

Example: The sorority caroused with wine and music after finally forming their new chapter.

Carousing: This form acts as a present participle for carouse.

Example: After carousing the night before, Claire woke in the afternoon with a pounding headache.

In Literature

From Sir Walter Scott's Quentin Durward:

"Thou wilt drink to any tune," said Lord Crawford; "and I fear me, Ludovic, you will drink a bitter browst (as much liquor as is brewed at one time) of your own brewing one day."
Lesly, a little abashed, replied that it had not been his wont for many a day; but that his Lordship knew the use of the company, to have a carouse to the health of a new comrade.
"True," said the old leader, "I had forgot the occasion. I will send a few stoups of wine to assist your carouse; but let it be over by sunset. And, hark ye -- let the soldiers for duty he carefully pricked off; and see that none of them be more or less partakers of your debauch."

Here, the writer uses carouse as a noun, referencing a celebration with alcohol. The characters speak about drinking excessive amounts of liquor, "as much as is brewed at one time." Also, the old leader offers wine to bring to the event, since a carouse involves drinking.


  • They caroused while drinking a browst.
  • The carouse brought down the house.


Party, Drink, Celebrate, New Years

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of carouse. Did you use carouse in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.