AWAY FROM STRONG DRINKS
Yesterday I mentioned that abstemious is one of only two words where all vowels appear in alphabetical order. It's a rarely used term, making up only 0.000016% of words used, basically meaning "not self-indulgent", often to do with food or drink (it's probably used less often because synonyms such as temperate or moderate can work just as well). The word was borrowed circa 1600 from Latin, where we can immediately chop off the ab- prefix (meaning "away from") and the -ous suffix, which denotes the presence of a quality. What's left is a mangled version of the root temetum, which in Latin was used to denote particularly strong drink, normally really powerful mead or wine. Etymologists are not absolutely certain what led up to that, but temetum could derive from Proto-Indo-European temh, meaning "dark", because the strong beverages in question were often quite dark.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.