Definition of temperance in US English:



  • Abstinence from alcoholic drink.

    as modifier ‘the temperance movement’
    • ‘Later, however, changing tastes and pressure from temperance advocates dictated that absinthe be diluted with water, preferably sweetened.’
    • ‘The appearance of temperance societies, sometimes supported by the medical establishment, caused many to re-evaluate the role of wine in diet and medicine.’
    • ‘Intent on removing alcohol from every table, temperance reformers across America made water the rallying symbol and principal icon of their movement.’
    • ‘Abolitionists, free-Boilers, temperance advocates, and nativists were organized interests of that era.’
    • ‘The idea that social regeneration might come through the adoption of temperance, as temperance advocates argued, encountered some criticism from a minority of churchmen, particularly High Anglicans.’
    • ‘In this last aspect, however, habitual temperance will generally be found to be much more beneficial than occasional fasting.’
    • ‘Though temperance advocates acknowledged that either male or female drinking destroyed domestic happiness, they often reserved their harshest opprobrium for women's drunkenness.’
    • ‘The movement often took the form of a religious revival and was referred to as a crusade: one teetotal group was even included with the churches by the religious census of 1851, along with temperance Wesleyans and temperance Christians.’
    • ‘The nineteenth century temperance approach, which had inveighed against the dangers of alcohol itself, was now rejected as moralistic and unscientific and the focus of attention was, once again, on the disease of alcoholism.’
    • ‘The brotherhoods' temperance activity incorporated aspects of earlier working-class and middle-class temperance efforts.’
    • ‘There are both striking parallels and important differences between the contemporary war on drink and drugs and the old temperance crusade.’
    • ‘The temperance advocates got strong support from the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Anglican churches.’
    • ‘In the 1830s, a third movement, the teetotal movement, emerged and radicalized temperance reform in two ways.’
    • ‘By the end of the nineteenth century, as temperance gripped Wales, every distillery but one had closed down.’
    • ‘The rhetoric combined the moral style of bourgeois temperance advocacy with an emphasis on alcohol's impact on the man and the family.’
    • ‘Women's temperance rhetoric and activity bolstered brotherhood temperance efforts and to an extent influenced union policy.’
    • ‘What is also clear is that there existed a range of opinion of the subject of alcohol, temperance, and gender identity.’
    • ‘Under the banner of temperance and local prohibition of the sale of intoxicating beverages, Norwegian politicians gained the support of their compatriots and were elected to public office.’
    • ‘Also, some temperance advocates blamed women's lack of domesticity for their men's drinking.’
    • ‘The crowd received sheets of lyrics composed by two temperance advocates and set to popular tunes.’
    teetotalism, abstinence, abstention, sobriety
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French temperaunce, from Latin temperantia ‘moderation’, from temperare ‘restrain’.