One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
adjectiverare, archaic, poetic
In such a state of intoxication as to be likely to stagger or reel.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in William Shakespeare (1564–1616), playwright and poet. From reeling + ripe, hence originally literally ‘ripe for reeling’. In later use sometimes apprehended as from reeling (which is first attested slightly later) + ripe, hence ‘so drunk as to reel or stagger’.
reeling ripe/ˌriːlɪŋ ˈrʌɪp/
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