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

Keep scrolling for more

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 "abs-" plus the Latin verb tenēre (meaning "to hold"), while "abstemious" gets its "-temious" from a suffix akin to the Latin noun temetum, meaning "intoxicating drink."

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

Regardless, one of the Comstockers Clemens had become acquainted with was the quiet, industrious, up-and-coming, and largely abstemious Irishman who superintended the Milton mine — John Mackay. Gregory Crouch, Time, "Mark Twain Claimed He Got His Pen Name From a Riverboat Captain. He May Have Actually Gotten It in a Saloon," 19 June 2018 Rigorous and painful, abstemious and a little hippie-kooky, the Ashram is one of the more curious yet luxurious experiences to be had. Sally Singer, Vogue, "Hollywood’s Favorite Detox Resort Launches a Delicious Vegetarian Cookbook," 13 June 2018 But Ronaldo and Messi have long followed comparatively abstemious lifestyles. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo: Still Soccer’s Supreme Leaders," 12 June 2018 What did Rogers, the abstemious beanpole, have to offer as an alternative? Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'Won't You Be My Neighbor?': Moving doc about TV pioneer Mister Rogers," 7 June 2018 Despite rumors of a dalliance with a female gymnastics star, Putin publicly presents himself as upright and abstemious. Fox News, "Vladimir Putin's power: From mean streets to Kremlin," 17 Mar. 2018 Still, among the more than 333,000 people in the study, light and moderate drinkers were 20% less likely to die from any cause during the study period compared with their completely abstemious peers. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "The Surprising Secrets to Living Longer — And Better," 15 Feb. 2018 The more powerful Volkswagen GTI with a manual returns 25 city and 33 highway, while the Civic Si rings in at 28/38 mpg and the abstemious Civic Sport trounces the Hyundai with its 29/38 EPA estimates. Joe Lorio, Car and Driver, "2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Manual," 25 Jan. 2018 To the shock and horror of the fiscally abstemious, Trump bragged about his willingness not just to take on large amounts of debt to help build his fortune but also to renege on paying it back in full. Reihan Salam, Slate Magazine, "The Return of the King of Debt," 30 Mar. 2017

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.

See More

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-)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about abstemious

Listen to Our Podcast about abstemious

Statistics for abstemious

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abstemious

The first known use of abstemious was in 1609

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for abstemious



English Language Learners Definition of abstemious

formal : not eating and drinking too much

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on abstemious

What made you want to look up abstemious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!