mid-14c., "self-restraint, moderation," from Anglo-Fr. temperaunce (mid-13c.), from L. temperantia "moderation," from temperans, prp. of temperare "to moderate" (see temper). L. temperantia was used by Cicero to translate Gk. sophrosyne "moderation." In Eng., temperance was
used to render L. continentia or abstinentia, specifically in reference to drinking alcohol and eating; hence by early 1800s it came to mean "abstinence from alcoholic drink."