Vocabulary: sumptuary laws — legislating morality


Title: Last Call
Author: Daniel Okrent
Sentence: Lloyd George never tried to institute actual Prohibition in Britain, but he did employ wartime pleas to patriotism in what the Atlantic Monthly called a "heroic onslaught" against booze, evidenced by a series of trade regulations and sumptuary laws that restricted alcohol consumption.
Page: 75

Word: sumptuary laws
Definition:
  • relating to personal expenditures and especially to prevent extravagance and luxury
  • designed to regulate extravagant expenditures or habits especially on moral or religious grounds. ie sumptuary laws or sumptuary tax
   Source: Merriam-Webster Online

I found this sentence when looking up the definition:

In Elizabethan England, these laws attempted to restrict the sumptuousness of dress in order to curb extravagance, protect fortunes, and make clear the necessary and appropriate distinctions between levels of society.

The common root with sumptuousness helped the word make more sense though a couple hundred years appeared to morph the meaning a bit.

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