• synonyms


[tee-toht-l, tee-toht-l]
  1. of or relating to, advocating, or pledged to total abstinence from intoxicating drink.
  2. Informal. absolute; complete.
Show More
verb (used without object), tee·to·taled, tee·to·tal·ing or (especially British) tee·to·talled, tee·to·tal·ling.
  1. to practice teetotalism.
Show More

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 formstee·to·tal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for teetotal

Historical Examples of teetotal

  • Then our teetotal habits do not interfere at all with our guests.

    Four Young Explorers

    Oliver Optic

  • As a plenipotentiary extraordinary I admit I'm a teetotal failure.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • The teetotal apostle says, it is a dreadful thing to be drunk.

    The Romany Rye

    George Borrow

  • He might at least have give us ginger-beer, or pop, if he's teetotal, as they say.

    Joyce's Investments

    Fannie E. Newberry

  • The teetotal apostle says it is a dreadful thing to be drunk.

    The Romany Rye

    George Borrow

British Dictionary definitions for teetotal


  1. of, relating to, or practising abstinence from alcoholic drink
  2. dialect complete
Show More
Derived Formsteetotaller, nounteetotally, adverbteetotalism, noun

Word Origin for teetotal

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

Word Origin and History for teetotal


"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."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper