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What Is a Teetotaler?

A teetotaler is someone who completely abstains from taking in any form of alcoholic beverage. The term came into accepted usage in the 1830s during British temperance meetings which aimed to control alcoholic beverages.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the meaning of teetotaler has nothing to do with drinking tea, though it is a common alternative to alcohol. The word teetotaler is formed by a grammatical term known as reduplication. Duplication of the first letter ‘t’ places emphasis on the word ‘total’. Before its link to the temperance movement, the phrase ‘t-total’ was often used to mean absolutely and completely. It was soon absorbed into describing those in the temperance movement, therefore, a teetotaler is someone who absolutely does not consume alcohol.

A teetotaler generally does not know the taste of alcohol as they have never taken a sip of it. This is unlike a social drinker, a regular imbiber or a reformed alcoholic. Teetotalers usually use religious beliefs or social reasoning to justify their abstinence. Others often have an alcoholic in their family background, so they would have seen the effects of excessive drinking. Many children of alcoholics become teetotalers and aim to influence those around them, and later their own children based on seeing how destructive alcoholism can be. Becoming a teetotaler is a personal decision often cited as breaking the cycle and creating a better legacy for the family. Most teetotalers are morally strong and uncompromising as they reject peer pressure and stand for what they believe in.

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