"package store"

Elizabeth Phillips phille at NYTIMES.COM
Thu Aug 31 16:53:40 UTC 2000

Mr. Safire is interested in the origin of the term "package store," which
Sen. Lieberman used in his speech at the DNC....

According to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (1977), the
term was widely used after Prohibition as a euphemism for "liquor store" --
"The expressions 'barroom' and 'liquor store' were ... taboo in many
districts. So the euphemism 'package goods store' became widely used--later
cut down to simple 'package store.'The meaning is simple: in such stores
liquor is sold only in sealed containers (packages) for off-premises
consumption." (Similar to Webster's 3rd. ed.: "a retail store where
alcoholic beverages are sold by the bottle for drinking off the premises.")

The OED cites an 1890 court decision reported in the Daily News of that
year: "Judge Forster [of Kansas] recently decided that liquor could only be
sold in 'original packages', which is construed as meaning one or more
bottles of beer of whisky."

Would any of you happen to have additional knowledge of the term's origin
or history?

Thanks for your help.


Elizabeth Phillips
Research Assistant
"On Language"

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