Definition of abstain
1 : to choose not to do or have something : to refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice abstain from drinking
2 : to choose not to vote Ten members voted for the proposal, six members voted against it, and two abstained.
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Examples of abstain in a Sentence
Ten members voted for the proposal, six members voted against it, and two abstained.
Recent Examples of abstain from the Web
One factor counting against the new superhero movie in terms of Israeli box office are traditional religious people who abstain from watching movies with leading ladies, such as Wonder Woman.
With Mayor Susan Drucker absent and Councilman Rob Pelunis abstaining, the majority of remaining Planning Commission members appeared to lean toward denying the request.
By abstaining from things that people tend to take for granted (such as water), it is believed, one may be moved to reflect on the purpose of life and grow closer to the creator and sustainer of all existence.
The fact that Muslims fast and abstain from drinking water in daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan has made things worse, Shah said.
Full day of Ramadan fasting begins Saturday marks the first full day of fasting during Ramadan, a month when Muslims around the world abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.
On climate, Trump stood alone in effectively abstaining from the final communique expressing strong support for Paris Agreement.
Of shares voted, 62 percent were against the compensation or abstained.
Like China, Russia also abstained from the UN Libya vote and took a critical line against West for its allegedly broad use of force in the country.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abstain'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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, abstenen, borrowed from Anglo-French asteign-, absteign-, stem of astenir, abstenir, borrowed (with conjugation change, conformed to tenir) from Latin abstinēre “to keep from, hold back, refrain, withhold oneself from,” from abs- (variant of ab- ab- before c- and t-) + tenēre “to hold” — more at 1thin
First Known Use: 14th century
ABSTAIN Defined for Kids
Definition of abstain for Students
: to choose not to do or have something abstain from voting
Medical Definition of abstain
: 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)
Legal Definition of abstain
: 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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