tee·​to·​tal·​er | \ ˈtē-ˈtō-tᵊl-ər How to pronounce teetotaler (audio) , -ˌtō- \
variants: or teetotaller

Definition of teetotaler

: one who practices or advocates teetotalism

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Did You Know?

A person who abstains from alcohol might choose tea as his or her alternative beverage, but the word teetotaler has nothing to do with tea. More likely, the "tee" that begins the word teetotal is a reduplication of the letter "t" that begins total, emphasizing that one has pledged total abstinence. In the early 1800s, ''tee-total'' and ''tee-totally'' were used to intensify ''total'' and ''totally'' much the way we now might say, ''I'm tired with a capital T.'' ''I am now … wholly, solely, and teetotally absorbed in Wayne's business,'' wrote the folklorist Parson Weems in an 1807 letter. Teetotal and teetotaler first appeared with their current meanings in 1834, eight years after the formation of the American Temperance Society.

Examples of teetotaler in a Sentence

in a quandary about what to serve for the wedding toast since his future in-laws are teetotalers
Recent Examples on the Web And last: President-elect Biden is a teetotaler, but Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is not. Elin Mccoy, Bloomberg.com, "Eight Ways Wine Will Change in 2021," 28 Dec. 2020 And last: President-elect Biden is a teetotaler, but Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is not. Elin Mccoy, Fortune, "8 ways wine will change in 2021," 28 Dec. 2020 Donald Trump, though a teetotaler, has a near-daily penchant for McDonald's, a habit once shared by Bill Clinton. Grant Addison, Washington Examiner, "Then and Now: Presidential vices," 12 Nov. 2020 The most exciting nugget to emerge in recent news reports is the revelation that Mr. Suga, a teetotaler with a sweet tooth, starts and ends each day with 100 situps. Ben Dooley, New York Times, "Japan’s Next Prime Minister Emerges From Behind the Curtain," 14 Sep. 2020 No, the truth is far simpler and much sadder than excessive alcohol or a teetotaler-like resistance to mixing even a dash of humanity with their sports. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Kansas City fans told on themselves by booing NFL’s moment of unity," 11 Sep. 2020 Back in his Oakwood days, Richard was a teetotaler content with the university’s vegetarian, no coffee, no tea dietary restrictions. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "Little Richard’s deep, slightly complicated Alabama roots," 20 May 2020 At the start of the film, Kopfrkingl is a bourgeois functionary: a teetotaler, an aesthete, a family man, and a student of Buddhist philosophy. Jeremy Lybarger, The New York Review of Books, "The Mordant Fables of Juraj Herz," 20 Apr. 2020 Somehow this seems akin to a bar offering deep discounts to teetotalers. WSJ, "Yes, the Fed Is Serving, but Who Bellies Up to the Bar?," 18 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'teetotaler.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of teetotaler

1834, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of teetotaler was in 1834

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Teetotaler.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teetotaler. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce teetotaler (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of teetotaler

: someone who never drinks alcohol

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