abstain

play
verb ab·stain \əb-ˈstān, ab-\

Definition of abstain

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice <abstain from drinking>

abstainer

noun

Examples of abstain in a sentence

  1. Ten members voted for the proposal, six members voted against it, and two abstained.

Did You Know?

If you "abstain," you're consciously and usually with effort choosing to "hold back" from doing something that you would like to do. So it's no surprise that "abstain" traces back through Middle English and Anglo-French to the Latin abstinēre, which combines the prefix ab- ("from, away, off") with "tenēre," a Latin verb meaning "to hold." "Tenēre" has many offspring in English - other descendants include "contain," "detain," "maintain," "obtain," "pertain," "retain," and "sustain," as well as some words that don't end in "-tain," such as "tenacious." "Abstain," like many of its cousins, has been used by English speakers since at least the 14th century.

Origin and Etymology of abstain

Middle English absteinen, from Anglo-French asteign-, absteign-, stem of astenir, abstenir, from Latin abstinēre, from abs-, ab- + tenēre to hold — more at thin


First Known Use: 14th century


ABSTAIN Defined for English Language Learners

abstain

play
verb ab·stain \əb-ˈstān, ab-\

Definition of abstain for English Language Learners

  • : to choose not to do or have something

  • : to choose not to vote


ABSTAIN Defined for Kids

abstain

play
verb ab·stain \əb-ˈstān\

Definition of abstain for Students

abstained

abstaining

  1. :  to choose not to do or have something <abstain from voting>

abstainer

noun

Medical Dictionary

abstain

play
intransitive verb ab·stain \əb-ˈstān, ab-\

Medical Definition of abstain

  1. :  to refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice (as consumption of a food or a drug or indulgence in sexual intercourse)

abstainer

noun

Law Dictionary

abstain

play
intransitive verb ab·stain \əb-ˈstān, ab-\

Legal Definition of abstain

  1. :  to refrain from exercising federal jurisdiction over a case :  cause an abstention <federal courts should normally abstain from intervening in pending court-martial proceedings — Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006)>



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