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Pronounced /ˈvaɪnələnt/Help with pronunciation

In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “In woman vinolent is no defence, This knowen lecchours by experience”, meaning that lechers succeed by getting women drunk, since vinolent means intemperate or addicted to wine. It has nothing to do with violence, but is from Latin vīnolentus in the same sense, obviously enough a relative of vinum, wine.

Chaucer’s use is easily its most famous appearance in literature, because vinolent has never been common and indeed has almost completely vanished from the English language (though a web search did turn up a firm apparently willing to print the word on a T-shirt for you; if you wore one it might provoke spectators to ask whether you were boasting or complaining). This is a very rare example:

By half-past nine a kinder vinolent atmosphere had put to sleep the hatreds and suspicions of before dinner.

Mortal Coils, by Aldous Huxley, 1921.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 1 Oct. 2005

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Last modified: 1 October 2005.