became a teetotaler vs. gave up the drink

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herut

Senior Member
HKI
Finnish
I've got a sentence that goes like this:

"Once he got through that night, father 'became a teetotaler'/'gave up the drink'." Which is more American (think Bukowski or someone like that)? Or should I use something else entirely? Thank you.
 
  • lablady

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I think most Americans would say, "gave up drinking." That is what I hear most often.

    I haven't heard "teetotaler" in everyday conversation in years.
     

    Will5

    Member
    England English
    The only time I have heard the word teetotal is in the following cases:

    I am going teetotal
    I am teetotal
    I have been teetotal for the past X years.

    I have never heard it being used as becoming a teetotaler. It doesn't sound right to me.
     

    herut

    Senior Member
    HKI
    Finnish
    Thanks. Sometimes it boggles my mind how linear my thinking is (or, perhaps, isn't)-- it's not as if I couldn't have made the connection between 'gave up the drink' and 'gave up drinking' myself.

    How about 'liquid courage'? Do Americans use that? E.g. "He was never able to speak about it with his wife, but now that he had had some liquid courage..."
     
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    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Common AE expressions:

    Gave up drinking
    Stopped drinking
    Gave up alcohol
    Went on the wagon (a little old-fashioned, though commonly understood. May imply a temporary respite.)
    Went off the sauce (same comments as above)
     

    Salvage

    Senior Member
    USA English
    If you're serious about Bukowski, he would never say teetotal-anything except in jest. I'm thinking "swore off drinking'. And again with Bukowski in mind, I would expect the idea that sobriety would not last.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    The only time I have heard the word teetotal is in the following cases:

    I am going teetotal
    I am teetotal
    I have been teetotal for the past X years.

    I have never heard it being used as becoming a teetotaler. It doesn't sound right to me.
    In American English "I became a teetotaler" sounds as natural to to me as "I became a vegetarian." "Teetotal" sounds entirely wrong. In fact, this is the first time I remember having encountered that word, although I did verify just now that it is in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
     
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