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.
The Russians, who abstained rather than using their veto, were horrified to see how quickly R2P morphed into regime change.
The U.N. Sanctions Intervening to Protect Civilians, So Why Not in Syria? Lindsey Hilsum June 7, 2012
Mitt Romney, who has abstained from the frenzy so far, asks whether the state sales tax will go away; Cain called it an orange.
Best Moments From the GOP Debate The Daily Beast Video October 18, 2011
Mark had abstained from sex and drinking during college while his dad was so sick.
Jenny Sanford Spills The Daily Beast February 4, 2010
In 1978, as Knesset Speaker, he abstained in the vote on the Camp David Accords with Egypt.
The Last Revolutionary Gershom Gorenberg July 1, 2012
Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Germany all abstained in the U.N. vote on military action in Libya.
The Lopsided U.N. Security Council Vote on Libya Shirin Tahir-Kheli March 18, 2011
His effort might have been a greater success if he had abstained from jocularity, which was not by any means his forte.
In Brief Authority F. Anstey
He drank three cups of tea, but abstained from food entirely.
The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
I abstained from watching him, for I had no desire to spoil his evening sport by taunting him to continue his experiment.
Kentucky in American Letters, v. 1 of 2 John Wilson Townsend
However, we forgave each other, as we had abstained from the chief liberty.
The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Their designs were facilitated by the circumstance that Turkey had abstained from sending troops into the province.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 4 Various
verb (intransitive) usually foll by from
to choose to refrain: he abstained from alcohol
to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet. characterized by abstinence: an abstemious life. sparing: an abstemious diet. Historical Examples He ate on, rapidly but abstemiously, and finished before Mr. Bylash, who had had twenty minutes’ start of him. Queed Henry Sydnor Harrison adjective moderate or sparing, esp in the consumption of alcohol […]