Monday, February 4, 2013


Meaning: Sobriety

Usefulness: 3 (It's an old alternative for sobriety; I just like the sound of it. "I'm rather looking forward to a month of soberty, and so is my liver." "Perhaps if you indulged in soberty more often, your memory would improve.")

Logofascination: 2 (The OED has citations from 1303 to 1483, and the more boring sobriety isn't attested until 1401, after which it seems to dominate.  Sobriety is closer to the Latin root, sobrius, which is not ebrius, not drunk. Ebrius is of course the root of inebriated and the rather lovely ebriety. I quite like the fact that one is, etymologically, in a state of being drunk or not-drunk, drunk therefore being the default.)

In the wild: Not since 1483.

Degrees: 2

Connections: Soberty - sober

Which is used in: G&P, Book the First (Gargantua), XXIII: How Gargantua was instructed by Ponocrates, and in such sort disciplinated, that he lost not one hour of the day. Gargantua's father has placed him under the care of Ponocrates (whose name means the taskmaster). Among other things, Gargantua's eating habits are addressed:
Here remark, that his dinner was sober and thrifty, for he did then eat only to prevent the gnawings of his stomach, but his supper was copious and large, for he took then as much as was fit to maintain and nourish him; which, indeed, is the true diet prescribed by the art of good and sound physic, although a rabble of loggerheaded physicians, nuzzeled in the brabbling shop of sophisters, counsel the contrary.
I'm going to use this quote any time people spout nonsense about not eating large meals at night. 

Regarding the word sober, the OED says "Various senses of the word tend to pass into or involve each other, and it is frequently difficult to decide which of these was principally intended by the writer." If they can't tell, neither can I.

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