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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 addicted to wine or intemperate. This is easily its most famous appearance of in literature, because vinolent was never common and has become even rarer since his time (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).

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

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 1 October 2005.