ab·​ste·​mi·​ous | \ ab-ˈstē-mē-əs How to pronounce abstemious (audio) \

Definition of abstemious

: marked by restraint especially in the eating of food or drinking of alcohol an abstemious drinker also : reflecting such restraint an abstemious diet

Other Words from abstemious

abstemiously adverb
abstemiousness noun

Did you know?

Abstemious and abstain look alike, and both have meanings involving self-restraint or self-denial. So they must both come from the same root, right? Yes and no. Both get their start from the Latin prefix abs-, meaning "from" or "away." But abstain traces to the Latin abstinēre, a combination of abs- and the Latin verb tenēre ("to hold"), while abstemious comes from the Latin abstēmius, which combines abs- with tēm- (a stem found in the Latin tēmētum, "intoxicating beverage," and tēmulentus, "drunken") and the adjectival suffix -ius ("full of, abounding in, having, possessing the qualities of").

Examples of abstemious in a Sentence

She is known as an abstemious eater and drinker. being abstemious diners, they avoid restaurants with all-you-can-eat buffets
Recent Examples on the Web Carter was consistently ethical, abstemious, frugal and ascetic in the White House. Washington Post, 18 June 2021 This woman, Margaret Bolden Wilson, was a Seventh-day Adventist who would have been considered abstemious even by the most devout. Colin Asher, The New Republic, 19 Apr. 2021 People grow more risk-averse, abstemious, religious. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2021 In a nation with an abstemious Protestant cultural heritage, self-indulgence—and comfort for its own sake—will always find hackles to raise. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 8 Dec. 2020 Gay, bow-tied, effusive, charismatic, and possessed of a lavish appetite, Beard had the misfortune to live in an era at once bigoted, repressed, paranoid, abstemious, and uninterestingly dressed. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, 4 Dec. 2020 Glenn is abstemious, churchgoing, devoted to his childhood sweetheart wife; Shepard lives the rock star life away from his wife, Louise (Shannon Lucio), drinking and philandering and cruising Florida’s Cocoa Beach in a Corvette convertible. cleveland, 9 Oct. 2020 Freddy was an awkward fit in a proud, humorless, abstemious family. Anne Diebel, The New York Review of Books, 8 Sep. 2020 This year’s exercise, which runs from August 17th to 31st, will be a more abstemious affair. The Economist, 16 Aug. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abstemious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of abstemious

1609, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for abstemious

borrowed from Latin abstēmius "refraining from wine, careful with one's means," from abs- (variant of ab- ab- before c- and t-) + -tēmius, from a base tēm- "intoxicating" (also in tēmētum "intoxicating beverage," tēmulentus "drunken"); if going back to an Indo-European root *temH-, akin to Sanskrit tāmyati "(he/she) is stunned, loses consciousness, is exhausted," tamayati "(he/she) chokes (someone)," Armenian tʿmrim "(he/she) is stunned" (perhaps going back to *tēmiro-)

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The first known use of abstemious was in 1609

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Cite this Entry

“Abstemious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abstemious. Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on abstemious

Nglish: Translation of abstemious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abstemious for Arabic Speakers


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