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What does "He had put away nearly three sixpacks during the baseball game, and he was shagged." mean at the end of the paragraph?

Tom was nearly asleep when the phone rang. He struggled halfway up, leaning toward it, and then felt one of Beverly’s breasts press against his shoulder as she reached over him to get it. He flopped back on his pillow, wondering dully who was calling on their unlisted home phone number at this hour of the night. He heard Beverly say hello, and then he drifted off again. He had put away nearly three sixpacks during the baseball game, and he was shagged.

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    I'm not familiar with that particular idiomatic usage, but from the context it obviously means "drunk/blotto/wasted/hammered/etc."
    – DavidW
    Sep 27, 2023 at 13:37
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    "put away" is a colloquialism for "consumed", "ate" or "drank", a "six pack" is six beverages (usually 12-ounce cans, and usually beer, though soft drinks are also said to come in six-packs) sold as a set, and "shagged" seems like maybe a New England-ism for "worn-out" and/or "drunk". So, I'd read it as "He had [consumed] nearly [18 cans of beer] during the baseball game, and he was [drunk and tired]" Sep 27, 2023 at 13:38
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    Bizarrely, King uses this word four times in his books and never with the same meaning twice - The one above (clearly meaning either "drunk" or "tired"), later in the same book to mean "caught" ("shagged foul balls"), in Just after Sunset to mean "hurried up" ("I shagged my elderly ass to the rear of the ambulance") and in The Talisman to mean "messy" ("greasy black hair shagged down his back to the shoulder").
    – Valorum
    Sep 27, 2023 at 14:11
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    Shagging balls, specifically in baseball, is relatively normal American slang. I suspect it comes from the etymology of "shag" meaning to shake or quiver. Shagging is a shimmying sort of dance. Shaggy hair bounces around. Shagging someone on your bed involves a lot of bouncing and shimmying. And someone trying to get under a fly ball is probably doing a decent amount of shimmying as they try to position torso and arm.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 27, 2023 at 18:46
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    Which parts of the sentence are you wondering about? Your question seems to basically come down to "what do each of these words mean", which is the question dictionaries are intended to answer. A common definition of "sixpack", which you should find in just about every dictionary, is "a pack of six cans of beer". If you check the dictionary for "put away", you should find something like "consume food or drink". Similarly, you'll find a definition of "shagged" that is "extremely tired". Put those together and you should have your answer.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 28, 2023 at 11:43

1 Answer 1

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As DavidW notes, "shagged" in this case simply means "drunk", likely drawing from the British slang "shagged out", which means "tired". He's drunk almost eighteen (three times six) beers, which is a substantial amount of alcohol. Using this BAC calculator and making some guesses on bodyweight and an average 3 hour baseball game, he'd have about a 0.34% BAC, which is headed for a 0.4% level where fatality becomes a risk.

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    18 cans of beer would indeed normally be a substantial amount of alcohol, except that this is American beer which is pretty much just frothy water Sep 27, 2023 at 13:44
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    ^_^ All jokes aside, unless it's light beers, the alcohol percentage of American beers is around 5%, which is comparable to beers like Guinness. The taste, on the other hand...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 27, 2023 at 13:52
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    {nods} Although, as an individual character choice, you never know what people will have in their personal or intimate group slang. Some people are just trying to make fetch happen. And, for a societal microcosm, all it takes is one member of the group getting drunk and saying thinking is like swimming through shag carpet, and suddenly your friends group refers to being drunk as being "shagged", and you start using that word in your head.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 27, 2023 at 18:43
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    "Shagged" in Ireland can mean tired, it has another, more . . . horizontal meaning too, but here it fits the "tired" interpretation. Sep 27, 2023 at 19:11
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    It's an American novel and "drinking in the sun during a sports event", I am absolutely sure that the scene does not reference 5%-strong beer but rather a 4.2 light one. Putting the blood alcohol at a more surviveable 2.8 BAC
    – Hobbamok
    Sep 28, 2023 at 13:50

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