Saturday, August 21, 2010

Abstemious or Temulent?



Kathy from Martinsburg, West Virginia, recently came across a word new to her. The word is abstemious, and it refers to temperate use of food and drink. It requires self-control, and later it was extended to habits and lifestyles that range beyond the table. It came from the Latin, where ab- signified “away from,” and temetum meant intoxicating liquor.

The only other word that I have found containing the same root is temulent, now rarely used. It meant drunken or intoxicated. 17th century variations were temulently, temulentness, temulentious, and temulentive.

Shifting beverages, a related word is vinolent, addicted to wine. Charles Wheelwright translated a line from Aristophanes as, “. . .the vinolent propensity of the Athenian females.” Happy hour in the agora, polloi!


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