Icelanders practice bracketed indulgence. Everything in moderation, they believe, including moderation. It’s perfectly acceptable to drink yourself comatose on the weekend, but so much as sip a glass of Chardonnay on a Tuesday night and you’re branded a lush.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

What is the meaning of 'bracketed' here?

2 Answers 2


I don't recognize this as standard usage, but going by context alone, I'd say it means something like "limited to a defined scope." Using their example: in Iceland, drinking alcohol (even to extremes) is acceptable or normal in certain conditions, yet taboo in others; therefore, the Icelanders' indulgence is "limited to a defined scope."

It seems that the American Heritage Dictionary (as cited here) could be taken to support such a usage:

tr.v. brack·et·ed, brack·et·ing, brack·ets


4. To include or exclude by establishing specific boundaries.

(However, note that this is a verb, not an adjective.)

  • +1 "Bracketed" functionally meaning "an exception as aside or addendum -- "I drink [but only on the weeked]" ... "I practice moderation [but only in moderation]". Oct 27, 2015 at 21:37
  • @TRomano That's a far better alternative :)
    – Wolfie Inu
    Oct 28, 2015 at 4:36

If you bracket two or more things or ​people, you ​consider them to be ​similar or ​connected to each other: He's often bracketed with the ​romantic ​poets of this ​period ​although this does not ​reflect the ​range of his ​work.

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