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Teetotalism is the practice or promotion of complete personal abstinence from alcoholic beverages. A person who practices (and possibly advocates) teetotalism is called a teetotaler (plural teetotalers) or is simply said to be teetotal. The teetotalism movement was first started in Preston, England, in the early 19th century. The Preston Temperance Society was founded in 1833 by Joseph Livesey, who was to become a leader of the temperance movement and the author of The Pledge: "We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as medicine."
There is some dispute over the origin of the word "teetotaler". One anecdote attributes the origin of the word to a meeting of the Preston Temperance Society in 1833. The story attributes the word to Richard Turner, a member of the society, who in a speech said "I'll be reet down out-and-out t-t-total for ever and ever". Walter William Skeat noted that the Turner anecdote had been recorded by temperance advocate Joseph Livesey, and posited that the term may have been inspired by the teetotum; however, James B. Greenough stated that "nobody ever thought teetotum and teetotaler were etymologically connected".
A variation on the above account is found on the pages of The Charleston Observer:
Teetotalers.—The origin of this convenient word, (as convenient almost, although not so general in its application as loafer,) is, we imagine, known but to few who use it. It originated, as we learn from the Landmark, with a man named Turner, a member of the Preston Temperance Society, who, having an impediment of speech, in addressing a meeting remarked, that partial abstinence from intoxicating liquors would not do; they must insist upon tee-tee-(stammering) tee total abstinence. Hence total abstainers have been called teetotalers.
An alternative explanation is that teetotal is simply a reduplication of the first "T" in total (T-total). It is said that as early as 1827 in some Temperance Societies signing a "T" after one's name signified one's pledge for total abstinence. In England in the 1830s, when the word first entered the lexicon, it was also used in other contexts as an emphasized form of total; a comparable American English locution would be "total with a capital T" (an instance of the "[word] with a capital [word-initial letter]" snowclone).
According to historian Daniel Walker Howe (What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 2007) the term was derived from the practice of American preacher and temperance advocate Lyman Beecher. He would take names at his meetings of people who pledged alcoholic temperance and noted those who pledged total abstinence with a T. Such persons became known as Teetotallers.
Reasons and justifications
Some common reasons for choosing teetotalism are psychological, religious, health, medical, familial, philosophical, social, past alcoholism, or sometimes it is simply a matter of taste or preference. When at drinking establishments, teetotalers (or teetotallers) either abstain from drinking completely, or consume non-alcoholic beverages such as water, juice, tea, coffee, non-alcoholic soft drinks, virgin drinks, mocktails, and alcohol-free beer.
Most teetotaler organizations also demand from their members that they do not promote or produce alcoholic intoxicants.
Similarly, one of the five precepts of Buddhism is abstaining from intoxicating substances that disturb the peace and self-control of the mind, but it is formulated as a training rule to be assumed voluntarily rather than as a commandment.
A number of Christian denominations also forbid the consumption of alcohol, including the Amish, Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites (both Old Order and Conservative), Church of the Brethren members, and Christian Scientists. Many Christian groups, such as Methodists, Mormons, and Quakers, are often associated with teetotalism due to their traditionally strong support for temperance movements and prohibition. However, tenets forbidding the consumption of alcohol are variably practiced. For example, Church of the Nazarene, an offshoot of Methodism does teach abstinence from alcohol. In many Christian denominations, abstinence is not a religious requirement, but the tradition is strong enough to make ritual and recreational alcohol consumption a controversial issue among members. Members of the Salvation Army make a promise on joining the movement to observe lifelong abstinence from alcohol. The Catholic Church, Orthodox churches, and Anglicanism all require wine in their central religious rite of the eucharist, and while many Protestant churches often allow grape juice or alcohol-free wine in their communion services, only a few Protestants require a non-alcoholic beverage as official policy. (See Christianity and alcohol.)
Many members of these religious groups are also required to refrain from selling such products. A translation of the New Testament, the Purified Translation of the Bible, translates in a way that promotes teetotalism.
Research on non-drinkers
Dominic Conroy and Richard de Visser published research in Psychology and Health which studied strategies used by college students who would like to resist peer pressure to drink alcohol in social settings. The research hinted that students are less likely to give in to peer pressure if they have strong friendships and make a decision not to drink before social interactions.
Caroline H. McClave published a comparison of three studies entitled Asexuality as a Spectrum: A National Probability Sample Comparison to the Sexual Community in the UK which found that asexuals and gray-asexuals drank significantly less and were more likely to abstain from drinking than the people not of those sexual orientations.
In one study, increased teetotalism within a family was associated with a lower level of alcoholism and vice versa. This suggests there is an inverse relationship between teetotalism and alcoholism.
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Anti-Saloon League
- Blue ribbon badge
- Christianity and alcohol
- Coerced abstinence
- International Organisation of Good Templars
- List of teetotalers
- List of Temperance organizations
- Theobald Mathew
- Pioneer Total Abstinence Association
- Sexual abstinence
- Straight edge
- Wedding of the Weddings
- Woman's Christian Temperance Union
- Word of Wisdom
- Wowser – slang expression
- Road to Zion - British Isles, BYU-TV; "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-11. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- Gately, Iain (May 2009). Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. New York: Gotham Books. p. 248. ISBN 978-1-592-40464-3.
- Quinion, Michael. "Teetotal". worldwidewords.org. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, by Walter William Skeat; published by Clarendon Press, 1893
- Words and Their Ways, by James B. Greenough; published 1902
- The Charleston Observer vol. 10, no. 44 (29 October 1836): 174, columns 4-5.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary - T, page 5". Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- "2017-2021 Manual". Church of the Nazarene. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Conroy, Dominic; de Visser, Richard. "Being a non-drinking student: An interpretative phenomenological analysis". Psychology and Health. 29 (5): 536–551. doi:10.1080/08870446.2013.866673. ISSN 0887-0446.
- Asexuality as a Spectrum: A National Probability Sample Comparison to the Sexual Community in the UK
- Neville, Sarah (February 13, 2015). "Young Britons turning teetotal in growing numbers, survey says". Financial Times. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
- "PsycNET". psycnet.apa.org. Retrieved 2017-12-10.