Highdeas: the origin of "getting stoned"

Highdeas: the origin of
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Have you ever been glued to the couch wondering where the term "getting stoned" comes from? Enter, and discover some of the colorful theories surrounding this topic.

“Getting stoned”, an age old term that everybody knows and mostly associates with getting high on weed. Some believe that "being stoned" came into the English language because the Rolling Stones were doing a bunch of drugs, however, this term was used way before they made awesome music. So where does this term originally come from?


In English, the term “stone” has long been used to signify an intensified state of being. For example, “Bobby was stone-drunk this lovely evening” or “after being outside for a long time, my behind was stone-cold.” In a story dating back to 1852 called “A Cracker Bon-Bon for Christmas Parties,” the experience of Shakespeare drinking for three days is described:

“Will,” said the Earl of Essex, “get up!”
“Go hang!” was the only reply.
“He's stone drunk!” said the Earl.

So, this term has been used for quite a while. Now comes the question, why exactly “stoned?” The terms used to describe intoxication often refer to being beaten or subjected to a greater force: being hammered, plastered, wasted, smashed, trashed, blitzed, etc—and being stoned follows the same recipe.


Maybe the italians were the first to get stoned?

There’s also another theory that this term may have originated from Italy. The word “stonato,” obviously Italian, means “out of tune, discordant, foggy, confused” depending on the context.

This word could’ve turned to “stonad” by Italian Americans who were muting the ending of their native words like “mozarell', andiam', ricott'.” The term "stonad" could’ve been used to describe people who were drunk, which might’ve evolved into being intoxicated under the influence of marijuana.


Netflix and stoned

And then there is the more physical aspect. In the 60s and 70s, being stoned referred to being under the influence of any kind of drugs, but nowadays it usually refers to being high on cannabis. But it rarely refers to being slightly inebriated and rather describes someone who is pretty… well stoned.

When the high hits you pretty hard and you smoked a heavy indica, you may sense the typical couch-locking sensation, in which you do not want to get up from your couch and Netflix session. In this example, the term stoned makes perfect sense—like your body has been transformed into a stone. Pretty much fixed to one spot, but happy nonetheless.

So next time you get stoned, let your mind ponder and if you think you know where this term comes from, let us know. Happy toking!

Miguel Antonio Ordoñez
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Miguel Ordoñez is a long-time writer by trade. Utilizing his AB Mass Media and Communications degree, he has 13 years of experience and counting. He’s covered a wide array of topics, with passion lying in combat sports, mental health, and of course, cannabis.