[ tem-per-uh ns, tem-pruh ns ]
/ ˈtɛm pər əns, ˈtɛm prəns /


moderation or self-restraint in action, statement, etc.; self-control.
habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion, especially in the use of alcoholic liquors.
total abstinence from alcoholic liquors.

Nearby words

  1. temper tantrum,
  2. tempera,
  3. temperament,
  4. temperamental,
  5. temperamentally,
  6. temperate,
  7. temperate bacteriophage,
  8. temperate zone,
  9. temperately,
  10. temperature

Origin of temperance

1200–50; Middle English temperaunce < Anglo-French < Latin temperantia self-control. See temper, -ance

Related formsan·ti·tem·per·ance, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for temperance

British Dictionary definitions for temperance


/ (ˈtɛmpərəns) /


restraint or moderation, esp in yielding to one's appetites or desires
abstinence from alcoholic drink

Word Origin for temperance

C14: from Latin temperantia, from temperāre to regulate

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 temperance



mid-14c., "self-restraint, moderation," from Anglo-French temperaunce (mid-13c.), from Latin temperantia "moderation," from temperans, present participle of temperare "to moderate" (see temper). Latin temperantia was used by Cicero to translate Greek sophrosyne "moderation." In English, temperance was used to render Latin continentia or abstinentia, specifically in reference to drinking alcohol and eating; hence by early 1800s it came to mean "abstinence from alcoholic drink."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for temperance


[ tĕmpər-əns, tĕmprəns ]


Moderation and self-restraint, as in behavior or expression.
Restraint in the use of or abstinence from alcoholic liquors.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.