“Stand” someone a drink

I recently encountered this Facebook post (by an American, about an American): “Anyway, I just wondered if any of my Facebook friends in NY feel like standing a good friend of a friend to a drink? Jeff’s a blast, and any friend of mine oughta be a friend of his…”

The verb stand, as used here is defined this way by the OED: “To bear the expense of, make a present of, pay for (a treat); to put up or make a present of (a sum of money), esp. as part of a larger amount sought.” The first citation is from Dickens, Sketches by Boz (1836): ” Mr. Augustus Cooper..‘stood’ considerable quantities of spirits and water.” The quotations marks indicate recent coinage. The dictionary also has this 1890 quote from Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine:  “I’ll stand you a dinner.”

Google’s Ngram Viewer indicates the term is a Britishism, though one that started fading out around 1940. (The blue line indicates use of “stood me a drink” in British English, the red line in American English.)

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Some readers will have noted that my Facebook friend misused the expression,  talking of standing the gentlemen “to” a drink, when the proper expression is “stand him a drink.” That’s all the proof I need that this expression is a one-off.

6 thoughts on ““Stand” someone a drink

  1. Is your ngram is looking at the wrong expression? Although you can “stand” someon a drink (or a meal). a more common usage of the term “stand” in this context might be to “stand a round” (in a pub).

  2. I like the word too! Although surely it can’t be a NOOB as it doesn’t even look as though it’s a Brit either …for much longer. I’m sure I heard my parents use the expression probably in the 50s. Made me wonder why the word was used as much in UK. Perhaps it’s “if you can STAND this beer, I’ll buy you another” or “as you’re still able to STAND, let me buy you another beer” and then you go outside to the pavement where you see a sign which says ” No Standing”

  3. When you say the chap you quoted “misused the expression,” are you referring to its “British” usage? I find quite a few examples of “stand you to” in a Google search, one even in an English-Portugese phrase listing. I have heard “stand you to” on quite a few occasions, but never “stand you.”

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