Pick your poison


What does Pick your poison mean?

The phrase Pick your poison is a popular term to use in bars. It is what a bartender says to a customer when ordering a drink.

First, the bartender lists some drinks that he would suggest, then he/she asks the customer to “pick their poison”.

People also use the slang when someone is supposed to make a decision between two horrible things, which might originate from the story of Socrates who was convicted by the Athenian court and had the choice of fleeing Athens or drinking the hemlock.


What's the origin of Pick your poison?

The etymology behind the term is that since the mid-19th people have referred to alcoholic drinks as ‘poison’ and use it as a slang too.

It might come from the Latin word “toxicum” (meaning “poison”), which can be brought in connection with the word “intoxicate”.

It also might just be called “poison” because of the bad effects of excessive drinking.

Spread & Usage

How did Pick your poison spread?

The phrase “pick your poison” has been around for quite some time, hence its popularity.

It has such a global presence that in Australia for a long time pubs were known as “poison-shops”.

Also, there is a famous card game which was inspired by the phrase.

The Pick Your Poison card game is basically based on the concept of the term, since you have to choose between two horrible things like the popular “Would You Rather?” game.

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