Temperance means restraint and moderation, but if you're talking about alcohol, temperance means not just drinking in moderation, it means not having it at all.

The temperance movement appeared in the U.S. in the 19th century, at first urging moderation in drinking but eventually seeking to outlaw alcohol entirely. It managed to get Prohibition enacted in 1919, which did outlaw alcohol, but it was repealed in 1933. Temperance doesn't just have to do with alcohol, it can refer to avoiding any kind of excess: if your new diet requires temperance, you're eating in a balanced, sensible way. Temperance comes from the Latin temperare, "restrain."

Definitions of temperance
  1. noun
    the trait of avoiding excesses
    synonyms: moderation
    see moresee less
    the quality of being intemperate
    dryness, sobriety
    moderation in or abstinence from alcohol or other drugs
    moderation in eating and drinking
    type of:
    natural virtue
    (scholasticism) one of the four virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) derived from nature
    control, restraint
    discipline in personal and social activities
  2. noun
    abstaining from excess
    synonyms: sobriety
    see moresee less
    type of:
    act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite
  3. noun
    the act of tempering
    see moresee less
    type of:
    combination, combining, compounding
    the act of combining things to form a new whole
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week