John Barleycorn • \JAHN-BAR-lee-korn\ • noun : alcoholic liquor personified "Eureka was, after all, the last home of Carry Nation, that ax-wielding foe of John Barleycorn, Demon Rum and all their evil ilk." (Charles Allbright, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, November 19, 2003)
"Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! / What dangers thou canst make us scorn!" Robert Burns wasn't the first to use "John Barleycorn" as a personification of liquor when he penned those lines in his poem Tam O'Shanter in the late 1700s. The term had been part of English vernacular for more than 150 years before Burns's heyday, but the poet played a key role in popularizing it by carrying it into literature. "Barleycorn" undoubtedly became part of that euphemism for alcohol because barleycorns (that is, grains of barley) are a key ingredient in malt liquor. And "John" has long been used as a generic name or personifier in English.
No profanes - sacred