Tall glass of water (also known as tall drink of water) is a colloquial expression which is used to define someone that is attractive and tall. While it is generally used to describe men, it can also be applied to women. Most times, “a tall glass of water” is used to simply describe a tall person, regardless of if they are seen as attractive or not.
Alternatively, the expression can also be used in a derogatory manner, relating to a person who is annoying or hard to get along with.
This idiomatic expression originates from another colloquial phrase, “tall, dark, and handsome.” This original format of the phrase was popular in the 80s and 90s, with women using it to describe a good-looking man.
However, in the 2000s, it became popular to describe a woman lusting after a man as “thirsty.” As a result, they would need a tall glass of water to quench their thirst, or lust, in this case. Some language experts think that the phrase originates from the Southwestern United States.
This definition actually traces its origins to Scotland rather than the United States. Back in 1887, the Scottish would describe a tall individual as “lang drink”.
Another famous usage of this alternative definition can be found in the classic movie Shawshank Redemption. The movie features a scene of the character Red (portrayed by Morgan Freeman) describing a newcomer inmate as “a tall glass of water with a silver spoon up his a**”, referring to the man’s height.