boiled owl n Usu in compar phrr humorous
[. . .]
2 in adj phrr drunk as a boiled owl, drunker than a ~, and varr: Extremely drunk.
1848 Democratic Pharos (Logansport IN) 7 June 1/1, Well, Jones, you’re a pretty fellow—here youve [sic] come home again drunk as a biled owl, and you don’t know yourself from four dollars and a half. 1862 (1864) Browne Artemus Ward Book 114 NY, Mike gits as drunk as a biled owl. 1899 (1912) Green VA Folk-Speech 27, Drunk as boiled owl. 1907 Porter Trimmed Lamp 33 NYC, Babbitt was in last night as full as a boiled owl. 1941 Amarillo Sun. News–Globe (TX) 27 Apr 11/1, “I rode all day,” he continued. “Only saw one man, came up to a little ranch, old fellow there was as drunk as a ‘biled’ owl.” 1946 Western Folkl. 5.335 CA, As drunk as a boiled owl. 1960 Hall Smoky Mt. Folks 62, As drunk as a biled owl. 1967 DARE (Qu. DD15, A person who is thoroughly drunk) Inf OH16, Drunker than a boiled owl. 1992 Delta Democrat–Times (Greenville MS) 29 Mar sec D 5/3, The bloated frog was as drunk as a boiled owl!
3 in adj phrr tough as a boiled owl, tougher than (a) ~.
1843 Spirit of Times 13.318/1, We were led to suppose that George was as effectually mashed as a “boned turkey,” as he would have been if he was not as tough as a boiled owl. 1857 Godey’s Lady’s Book 55.211, Poor Henry exerted himself . . to keep up with the vigorous old man, who declared himself as tough “as a boiled owl, and worth a score of your scientific gentlemen farmers.” 1892 DN 1.211 seMA, Tough. “Tougher’n a biled owl” (said of an enduring person). 1909 DN 3.422 Cape Cod MA (as of a1857), Tough as a biled owl. . . Used of a person of strong constitution. 1929 AmSp 5.130 ME, It’s tough as a b’iled owl. 1933 Creston News Advt. (IA) 11 Apr 1/1, Both girls are of the underworld; tougher than boiled owl, and one of them testified that it was all a put-up job. 1945 Iola Reg. (KS) 5 Apr 6/2, The Maleys say the west coast is a wonderful country, as tough as a boiled owl and the weather is rotten. Their many friends here are glad to have Harry, Verda and their kiddies back here where they belong. 1970 Camden News (AR) 31 Aug 5/1, “He is real smart,” says Arkansas assistant coach Mervin Johnson. . . “And he’s tough as a boiled owl.” [1975 Gould ME Lingo 17, Boiled owl—A presumptive, last ditch meal than which, in Maine cookery, there is nothing tougher: “I’m hungry enough to eat a boiled owl!”] 2008 Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield MA) 22 Nov sec A 5/1, Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson once emerged from a marathon conference committee meeting and noted, “Henry Waxman is tougher than a boiled owl.”