A hangover (also spelled “hang over” and “hang-over") often results from the over-consumption of alcoholic beverages. “Hang over” meaning something “hanging over” or a residual or after-affect is recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary from at least 1894.
The alcoholic sense of “hang over” is recorded by at least 1895 and was written as one word by at least 1904.
A hangover (veisalgia) describes the sum of unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of drugs, particularly alcoholic beverages. The most commonly reported characteristics of a hangover include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, and thirst.
Hypoglycemia, dehydration, acetaldehyde intoxication, and vitamin B12 deficiency are all theorized causes of hangover symptoms. Hangovers may last up to two or three days after alcohol was last consumed. Approximately 25-30% of drinkers may be resistant to hangover symptoms. Some aspects of a hangover are viewed as symptoms of acute ethanol withdrawal, similar to the longer-duration effects of withdrawal from alcoholism, as determined by studying the increases in brain reward thresholds in rats (the amount of current required to receive to electrodes implanted in the lateral hypothalamus) following ethanol injection.
The term hangover was originally a 19th century expression describing unfinished business—something left over from a meeting—or ‘survival.’ In 1904, the meaning “morning after-effect of drinking too much” first surfaced.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
1. A thing or person remaining or left over; a remainder or survival, an after-effect. (Later quots. influenced by sense 2.)
1894 Outing (U.S.) XXIV. 67/2 Then there are a few ‘hang-overs’ who have tried before, and two or three green candidates.
1920 C. SANDBURG Smoke & Steel 153 A hangover of summer song.
1922 H. CRANE Let. 23 June (1965) 77 Since I have been writing ads a certain amount of hangover work to be done evenings.
2. The unpleasant after-effects of (esp. alcoholic) dissipation.
1904 ‘G. WURDZ’ Foolish Dict., Brain,..usually occupied by the Intellect Bros.,Thoughts and Ideas—as an Intelligence Office, but sometimes sub-let to Jag, Hang-Over & Co.
1912 W. IRWIN Red Button 93 This was the first time in his life that Tommy North had ever admitted a ‘hangover’.
1935 D. L. SAYERS Gaudy Night viii. 161 ‘How’s Miss Cattermole?’ ‘Bad hang-over. As you might expect.’
1942 New Statesman 11 July 26/1 But the use of myths has a similar effect to the use of alcohol: an inevitable hang-over follows the original elation.
1957 Listener 18 July 105/2 Its [sc. coffee’s] ability to quicken the spirits, and, above all, to remove the vestiges of those severe hang-overs which afflicted our hard-drinking fore~fathers.
1959 N. MAILER Advts. for Myself (1961) 220 It was the only good writing I ever did directly from a drug, even if I paid for it with a hangover beyond measure.
14 December 1895, Stevens Point (WI) Daily Journal, “A Confirmed Drunkard; A Pet Squirrel a Slave to King Alcohol,” pg. 1, col. 7:
The stimulating effect was delightful and he jumped about his cage like an Indian on a drunk. He suffered all the depressing effects of a “hang-over” but the next day insisted on another “time.”
REPORT OF THE EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN STREET RAILWAY ASSOCIATION
HELD AT TATTERSALL’S, CHICAGO, ILL.
OCTOBER 17-20, 1899.
Chicago, IL: Office of the Association
Perhaps I am the first to do him the justice to say that it may not have been an error of judgment, but merely a “hang-over” from the previous night.
24 December 1901, Waterloo (Iowa) Times-Tribune, pg. 1, col. 1:
WANTED TO DIE.
A Drunk in the West Side Police Station Tries to Hang Himself.
A man by the name of George Hinman hailing from West Union wanted to die last night and tried to convert his clothing into a rope by which to swing into eternity. He was discovered before he succeeded however and is today living and feeling not the effects of the attempt at hanging, but the hang over of a terrible jag.
Forty Modern Fables
By George Ade
New York, NY: R. H. Russell
1902 (Copyright 1900-1901)
By the time that he lands into his Happy Clothes of an Evening he is fairly well Corned, and he sees the Dawn of Morning through a Purple Haze. In the Afternoon, when he arises, he has a Hang-Over which is made the Foundation of something very Tidy in the way of a Skate.
By David Graham Phillips
New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap
“That’s no one-day jag,” shouted the other. “It’s a hang-over.”
Old Gorgon Graham:
More Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son
By George Horace Lorimer
New York, NY: Doubleday, Page & COmpany
Even if a boss grants that there’s fun in drinking, it shouldn’t take him long to discover that he’s getting the short end of it, when all the clerks can share with him in the morning is the head and the hangover.
1 October 1904, New York (NY) Evening World, “One Arm, No Legs, But Gets Drunk,” pg. 3, col. 7:
Nevertheless he was the proud possessor of what the police called a “hang-over.”
23 March 1906, The Harvard Advocate, pg. 34:
Instead of going to church to listen to a sermon which might or might not help him towards eternal happiness he would be sleeping off the effects of a hang-over.
The Sorrows of a Show Girl:
A Story of the Great “White Way”
By Kenneth McGaffney
Chicago, IL: J. I. Austen Company
“Wilbur can moan and groan around with a hangover for a couple of days, but I have to be right on the job all the time with this smiling face and laughing eye thing, or he would seek some other place for sympathy.”
May 1909, Harper’s Monthly Magazine, pg. 852:
“What in hell’s the fun do them damn fools get out of booze so early in the mornin’?” he commented.
“Sort of a hang-over,” said Charley, carelessly, letting the rope slip through his callous palms, and peering down to see the tongs removed.
The Up Grade
By Wilder Goodwin
Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company
“Have another drink!” he said, “there is nothing like it for a hang-over.”