temperance

noun

tem·​per·​ance ˈtem-p(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce temperance (audio)
-pərn(t)s
1
: moderation in action, thought, or feeling : restraint
2
a
: habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions
b
: moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages

Did you know?

Since temperance means basically "moderation", you might assume that, with respect to alcohol, temperance would mean moderate consumption, or "social drinking". Instead, the word has usually meant the prohibition of all alcohol. To temperance leaders such as Carry Nation, the safest form of drinking was no alcohol at all. Believing she was upholding the law, Nation began her hatchet-swinging attacks on saloons, known as "hatchetations", in the 1890s. National prohibition did eventually come—and go—but largely through the efforts of more temperate (that is, moderate) reformers.

Example Sentences

The minister preached about temperance. my father attributes his ripe old age to temperance in all things, especially eating and drinking
Recent Examples on the Web Yet the extent to which that bolstered the overall system is viewed with temperance, at least outwardly. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Sep. 2022 The prohibition era is back, only this time, the temperance movement is targeting your carbon-producing sins. Henry Payne, National Review, 26 Aug. 2022 Periods of temperance, promoted by Susan B. Anthony, Walt Whitman, et al., and prohibition have alternated with the apotheosis of drinking and the drunk. Tamar Adler, Vogue, 18 Aug. 2022 Focus on personal choice makes the sober-curious movement quite different from temperance movements of the past. Jason Wilson, Washington Post, 25 July 2022 By 1853, Roman Catholics and foreign citizens were frequently criticized in xenophobic editorials, and the newspaper also became a strong supporter of temperance. Chicago Tribune, 26 June 2022 The sponsoring Old Mission Beach Athletic Club does not represent itself as a temperance movement. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 July 2022 Factors driving the split may have also included a difference of opinion regarding the second wave of the temperance movement and horse racing. Alison Cross, Hartford Courant, 27 June 2022 These include the classiccardinal virtues of fortitude (courage), temperance (moderation), prudence (wisdom) and justice, as well as those named in more recent research: honesty, care, respect and fairness. Jonathan H. Westover, Forbes, 2 May 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English temperaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French temprance, temperance, borrowed from Latin temperantia "self-control, moderation, restraint," noun derivative from temperant-, temperans, present participle of temperāre "to exercise moderation, restrain oneself" — more at temper entry 2

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of temperance was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near temperance

Cite this Entry

“Temperance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temperance. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

temperance

noun

tem·​per·​ance ˈtem-p(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce temperance (audio)
-pərn(t)s
1
: control over one's acts, thoughts, or feelings : moderation, restraint
2
: the use of little or no alcoholic drink

Medical Definition

temperance

noun

tem·​per·​ance ˈtem-p(ə-)rən(t)s, -pərn(t)s How to pronounce temperance (audio)
: habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions
specifically : moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages

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