Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Regulating or limiting personal expenditures.
  • adj. Regulating commercial or real-estate activities: sumptuary laws discouraging construction of large houses on small plots of land.
  • adj. Regulating personal behavior on moral or religious grounds: sumptuary laws forbidding gambling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Relating to expense; regulating expense or expenditure.
  • adj. Relating to a law; sumptuary laws or regulations, are those intended to restrain or limit the expenditure of citizens in apparel, food, furniture, etc.; laws which regulate the prices of commodities and the wages of labor; laws which forbid or restrict the use of certain articles, as of luxurious apparel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Relating to expense; regulating expense or expenditure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Relating to expense; regulating expense or expenditure.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. regulating or controlling expenditure or personal behavior

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Latin sūmptuārius, from sūmptus, expense, from past participle of sūmere, to take, buy; see em- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Latin sumptuarius, from sumptus expense, cost, from sumere, sumptum, "to take", "use", "spend"; sub "under" + emere "to take", "buy": compare with French somptuaire

Examples

  • In those days there was a law, known as a sumptuary law, which regulated by statute the clothes that each class of people were privileged to wear.

    Men of Iron

  • Perhaps it was from this cause that the idea of sumptuary laws originated; for though, in some cases, the pride of being distinguished might occasion the sovereign to enact, or the higher orders of society to solicit them, yet they were always considered as tending to prevent ruinous extravagance.

    An Inquiry into the Permanent Causes of the Decline and Fall of Powerful and Wealthy Nations. Designed To Shew How The Prosperity Of The British Empire May Be Prolonged

  • He was fascinated by the "sumptuary" distinctions that separated the truly well off from the "shoestring aristocrats" and the shoestring aristocrats from those simply aspiring to their status.

    The Audubon of Suburbia

  • But even though it had been, golly, four or five years already since the dress laws - "sumptuary" laws they called them at school -- she just could not get used to them, after living in jeans all those years.

    Linda Hirshman: Red State, Chapter Three: Garaged

  • And what this all points to to me is a new kind of sumptuary law, or an attack on what some people consider conspicuous consumption.

    CNN Transcript Jan 12, 2003

  • For Ponte: Barton Beebe has a useful paper on sumptuary rules in TM.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • Me for Ponte: I want to know more about sumptuary laws as economic protectionism.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • The sumptuary laws of Rome defined exactly who could wear the Tyrian purple dye, and how much.

    Drunk On Color

  • Clearly, NY Times is not your typical local paper ... here are the Top 10 words: sui generis solipsistic louche laconic saturnine antediluvian epistemological shibboleths penury sumptuary

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde were found guilty of breaking sumptuary law (per the 18th amendment) and were sentenced to a year in jail.

    The Pirate Bay vs Them – rematch

Comments

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  • "Throughout the Middle Ages, but especially toward their end and into the early modern era, attempts were made by governments to limit the ostentatious and wasteful display of wealth, especially on the part of those deemed newly rich and hence not entitled to such tokens of privilege by ancestry. Concern over ruinous competition played a part in such sumptuary legislation, but even more important was anxiety over the erosion of social boundaries and a desire to avoid the perceived moral decay arising from indiscriminate consumption of luxuries. Most of the regulations enacted by cities and states dealt with clothes: what sorts of jewelry could be worn (or, more to the point, not worn) by different classes, with fur trimming and silk also coming in for special attention. Consideration was also given to banquets and the dishes served at them, to prohibit the lower orders from inappropriately showing off culinary creations symbolically higher than their status permitted... English sumptuary regulations of 1517 allowed cardinals, for example, to serve nine dishes at a meal, while those with property providing an income between forty and five hundred pounds were limited to three. These rules expressed obsessive concern regarding poultry and how many of the different kinds of birds might be deployed in any one service. One crane, peacock, or swan was an absolute limit. In addition, cardinals might have six small luxury birds (partridges, woodcocks), but other lords had to content themselves with four. Secular nobles might be consoled, however, with up to eight quail and a dozen larks. ... One would expect to find more regulation of spice usage in sumptuary legislation, but it was not a major concern. Spices were an important fashion item and a form of conspicuous consumption, but it was easier to control jewelry, clothing, or for that matter, main courses than the purchase of spices, expensive though they were."

    Paul Freedman, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2008), 45

    November 27, 2017

  • you only think that you are the law.......snd to the why not, just cuz

    March 6, 2010

  • God knows how much that would cost.

    February 6, 2009

  • Let them eat cake.

    February 5, 2009

  • I think we need a new revolution.

    February 5, 2009

  • The line is somewhere around $35,001, apparently. *eyeroll*

    February 4, 2009

  • See citiboobs.

    February 4, 2009

  • What could one possibly do to a commode that would make it worth $35,000? I find it profoundly disturbing that such a thing exists at all.

    Where do we draw the line?

    February 4, 2009

  • “I’ve become increasingly concerned about the rising number of rich people who are being caught unawares by shifts in the sumptuary code. First, there were those auto executives who didn’t realize that it is no longer socially acceptable to use private jets for lobbying trips to Washington. Then there was John Thain, who was humiliated because it is no longer acceptable to spend $35,000 on a commode for a Merrill Lynch washroom.�?

    The New York Times, Ward Three Morality, by David Brooks, February 2, 2009

    February 4, 2009