Abstain



to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from):
to abstain from eating meat.
to refrain from casting one’s vote:
a referendum in which two delegates abstained.
Contemporary Examples

She and her husband had agreed to abstain from sex with each other until they were married.
Is the Pill Killing Your Sex Drive? Joyce C. Tang May 16, 2010

If the board does not give careful consideration to the case, Mr. Greenberg could challenge its decision to abstain.
AIG May Sue the Government For An Insufficiently Generous Bailout Megan McArdle January 7, 2013

The Dutch and Swedish positions are not confirmed but they are likely to abstain.
How Europe Will Vote And Why Fatima Ayub November 27, 2012

Some especially well-bred people among us might be noble enough in spirit and possessions to abstain from this temptation.
The Next President Won’t Save Us James Poulos December 17, 2013

The uniting factor in Giving Pledge is a commitment to abstain from dynastic wealth in the cause of philanthropy.
Where the Billions Will Go Tom Watson August 5, 2010

Historical Examples

We know of a working-man who on the eve of his marriage signed a promise to abstain from intoxicating liquor.
How to be Happy Though Married E. J. Hardy.

Merely to abstain from definition was like a load taken off my mind.
The Conquest of Fear Basil King

The Bishop then locked up his books and papers, and commanded him to abstain from reading and writing for ten days.
The Sonnets, Triumphs, and Other Poems of Petrarch Petrarch

The Newry folks, and all of their breed, abstain from whining and cadging.
Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

I shall consider it as my duty to abstain from all mention of these awful events, and of these fatal controversies.
A Discourse on the Study of the Law of Nature and Nations James Mackintosh

verb (intransitive) usually foll by from
to choose to refrain: he abstained from alcohol
to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc
v.

late 14c., “to withhold oneself,” from Old French abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) “hold (oneself) back, refrain, abstain (from), practice abstinence,” from Latin abstinere “withhold, keep back, keep off,” from ab(s)- “from, away from” (see ab-) + tenere “to hold” (see tenet). Specifically of liquor, attested from late 14c. Of voting, 1796. Related: Abstained; abstaining.

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  • Abstained

    to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat. to refrain from casting one’s vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained. Contemporary Examples The Russians, who abstained rather than using their veto, were horrified to see how quickly R2P morphed into […]

  • Abstainer

    a person who from something regarded as improper or unhealthy, especially the drinking of alcoholic beverages. a person who from anything. Historical Examples The dipsomaniac and the abstainer are not only both mistaken, but they both make the same mistake. A Chesterton Calendar G. K. Chesterton You have always, then, been an abstainer since you […]



  • Abstaining

    to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat. to refrain from casting one’s vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained. Contemporary Examples And scientists do, indeed, downplay many of the supposed benefits of abstaining from food. The Enlightenment Diet Bruce […]

  • Abstemious

    sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet. characterized by abstinence: an abstemious life. sparing: an abstemious diet. Historical Examples For this they work most energetically; living in the most abstemious manner, in order that they may not break into their hoard. A Tramp’s Wallet William Duthie He was however naturally of an […]



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