Teetotalism - Encyclopedia




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TEETOTALISM, the practice of total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, hence that form of the temperance movement of which the basis is the "pledge" to abstain from all intoxicating liquors (see Temperance). There seems no doubt that the word, whatever its actual origin, is a strengthened form of "total," probably influenced by "teetotum" (q.v.). According to the Century Dictionary, the secretary of a New York temperance society introduced a total abstinence pledge among its members, who were thus divided into those who had taken the old pledge, the O.P.'s, to abstain from spirituous liquors, and the T.'s, who had taken the new or total pledge. The English version, taken from the account by Joseph Livesey in the Staunch Teetotaler, January 1867, is that one Richard Turner, a Preston artisan and popular temperance speaker, declared at a meeting about 1833, that "nothing but tee-teetotal would do." This repetition of the initial letter does not appear to have been due to his stammering but to have been a mere emphasis on the word. The expression seems to have obtained instant recognition and popularity. Both versions are apparently authentic, and there seems no reason to suppose that they are not independent.

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