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[tee-toht-l, tee-toht-l] /tiˈtoʊt l, ˈtiˌtoʊt l/
of or relating to, advocating, or pledged to total abstinence from intoxicating drink.
Informal. absolute; complete.
verb (used without object), teetotaled, teetotaling or (especially British) teetotalled, teetotalling.
to practice teetotalism.
Origin of teetotal
reduplicated variant of total, coined by R. Turner, of Preston, England, in 1833, in a speech advocating total abstinence from alcoholic drinks
Related forms
teetotally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for teetotalling
Historical Examples
  • Come to the smoking room, and let's see what you can do after teetotalling for a year.

    The Philanderer George Bernard Shaw
  • Take my word for it, but old Johnsen was a bit sore that night; and wishing he'd never gone in for teetotalling!

    Dry Fish and Wet Anthon Bernhard Elias Nilsen
British Dictionary definitions for teetotalling


of, relating to, or practising abstinence from alcoholic drink
(dialect) complete
Derived Forms
teetotaller, noun
teetotally, adverb
teetotalism, noun
Word Origin
C19: allegedly coined in 1833 by Richard Turner, English advocate of total abstinence from alcoholic liquors; probably from total, with emphatic reduplication
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for teetotalling



"pledged to total abstinence from intoxicating drink," 1834, possibly formed from total (adj.) with a reduplication of the initial T- for emphasis (T-totally "totally," though not in an abstinence sense, is recorded in Kentucky dialect from 1832 and is possibly older in Irish-English).

The use in temperance jargon was first noted September 1833 in a speech advocating total abstinence (from beer as well as wine and liquor) by Richard "Dicky" Turner, a working-man from Preston, England. Also said to have been introduced in 1827 in a New York temperance society which recorded a T after the signature of those who had pledged total abstinence, but contemporary evidence for this is wanting, and Webster (1847) calls teetotaler "a cant word formed in England."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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