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Teetotal: What is it? [Plus, which celebrities are teetotal]

Teetotal: What is it? [Plus, which celebrities are teetotal]


6 minute read

Teetotal is a term coined in the 19th century to describe completely sober people. Back then, the Temperance Movement mostly advocated for giving up booze and hard liquors, while “teetotalling” meant giving up wine and beer as well.

Teetotalism is the practice or promotion of absolute abstinence from all alcoholic beverages.

Although a drink a day may reduce your risk of heart disease, not drinking any alcohol can lead to a lot of health benefits:

If you’re looking for yummy mocktails or non-alcoholic wines, try Surely’s alcoholic-removed rosé. It tastes just like rosé, but we’ve removed the alcohol so you can enjoy it without handing over your keys.

You know, so you don’t do this.

What is Teetotal?

Teetotal means to completely abstain from alcohol. This adjective (teetotal) can be turned into a verb (teetotalling) or a noun (teetotaller) or even an adverb (teetotally).

Technically, the “tee” in “teetotal” should just be a “t-”, but it is almost never spelled that way.

Look in a thesaurus, and here are 5 synonyms you would find for the word teetotal:

  • Dry
  • Sober
  • Abstemious
  • Abstinent (from alcohol, not sex)
  • On the wagon

Reasons someone may choose teetotalism might include:

  1. Health — including overall health, mental health, or medical purposes
  2. Family
  3. Personal history of alcohol use
  4. Religion
  5. Philosophy
  6. A matter of preference

How Did It Start? [Origin of the Word Teetotal]

Teetotal started as part of the Temperance Movement in the 1800s. Where many were abstaining from “ardent spirits” (hard liquor), teetotallers swore to abstain from all intoxicating drinks.

The term “teetotal” is likely the result of a stutter.

Well, the etymology is disputed, but let’s talk about the most interesting possibilities.

In 1833, well-known temperance advocate Richard “Dicky” Turner of Preston, Lancashire, England addressed a meeting of the Preston Temperance Society. His speech impediment led him to say something like: 

Partial abstinence from intoxicating liquors will not do. We must insist upon tee-tee-tee total abstinence.”

Another anecdote claims that Richard Turner said something like, “I'll be reet down out-and-out t-t-total for ever and ever.”

Of course, Richard Turner may have just said the “t-” for emphasis (not due to a speech impediment) as was common back in that time — called reduplication.

Ultimately, Richard Turner’s tombstone reads, “Beneath this stone are deposited the remains of Richard Turner, author of the word 'teetotal' as applied to abstinence from all intoxicating liquors.”

There are other conflicting accounts on how the term was coined, but these are neither as popular or as memorable as Richard Turner’s tale.

One such account claims it is related to the word “teetotum”, but most historians agree this is unlikely.

Adding a “T” After Your Name

Another proposed origin of the term “teetotal” is the fact that in some early 1800’s Temperance Societies, signing a capital T after your name showed that you had sworn an oath of temperance.

Some historians claim this is how the term “teetotal” developed over a few years, meaning these individuals were committed to total temperance, indicated by a “T” after their name.

Abstention From Alcohol

Teetotallers commit themselves to complete abstention from alcohol. But that doesn’t mean they can’t drink fun drinks.

Many abstainers opt for water, tea, juices, and other non-alcoholic beverages. Others choose to drink exciting mocktails, virgin drinks, and alcohol-removed drinks (like NA beer).

Don’t forget: Surely’s alcoholic-free rosé is a great addition to your teetotal lifestyle while maintaining the unique, crisp taste of rosé in your day-to-day.

Sober Curious Movement

The sober curious movement is a recent trend towards drinking less alcohol. Though it’s related to teetotalism, sober curiosity does not mean total abstinence from alcohol.

“Sober curious” is a term coined in Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book. The movement is supposed to be inclusive, supportive, and wide-reaching. Some sober curious people may swear off minimally alcoholic drinks, and some may enjoy a glass of wine at happy hour.

Ultimately, Warrington wants everyone to reevaluate their relationship with alcohol. In order to avoid slipping into alcohol use disorder, Warrington encourages people to stay away from day drinking and make sure not to drink more alcohol than others around you.

Sober curiosity is kinda like diet teetotalism. You don’t have to swear an oath to total temperance, but you are encouraged to reduce your alcohol consumption. (Check out these sober bars if you're sober curious!)

Celebrities That Teetotal 

Check out these 30 teetotal celebrities! Whether it’s due to alcohol use disorder in the past, or a simple matter of preference, these are just a few of the actors, musicians, comedians, and politicians who have decided to go teetotal:

  1. Jennifer Lopez
  2. Zac Efron
  3. Tyra Banks
  4. Tyler, the Creator
  5. Gene Simmons
  6. Daniel Radcliffe
  7. Tom Hardy
  8. Kelly Ripa
  9. John Mayer
  10. Jim Carrey
  11. Sarah Silverman
  12. Sia
  13. Bradley Cooper
  14. Brad Pitt
  15. Chrissy Teigen
  16. Joe Manganiello
  17. Lana Del Ray 
  18. Calvin Harris
  19. Robert Downey Jr. 
  20. Demi Lovato 
  21. Ben Affleck
  22. Shania Twain
  23. Dane Cook
  24. Blake Lively 
  25. Russell Brand
  26. Natalie Portman
  27. Anne Hathaway
  28. Dane Cook
  29. Donald Trump
  30. Joe Biden

Sources

  1. Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Cancer
  2. Innate Immunity and Alcohol 
  3. Oxidative stress in alcohol-related liver disease
  4. Skin diseases in alcoholics
  5. Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis
  6. Sexual dysfunctions in alcohol-dependent men: A study from north India 
  7. Type of alcoholic beverage and incidence of overweight/obesity in a Mediterranean cohort: the SUN project

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