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

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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 Freddy was an awkward fit in a proud, humorless, abstemious family. Anne Diebel, The New York Review of Books, "Trumps on the Couch," 8 Sep. 2020 This year’s exercise, which runs from August 17th to 31st, will be a more abstemious affair. The Economist, "No drunken sailors America musters the world’s biggest naval exercise," 16 Aug. 2020 Using the pseudonym CharlesXII, an apparent reference to the late Swedish king known for his military leadership and abstemious personal life, Neff shared an array of bigoted opinions on Black and Asian people, the Mormon church and immigrants. Meredith Blake Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Fox News condemns former Tucker Carlson writer for ‘horrific’ racist, sexist comments," 11 July 2020 This was easier in the days when politicians frequently drank at lunch—and some drank a lot—but remains a stock-in-trade even in these abstemious times. The Economist, "When two tribes go to lunch," 12 Sep. 2019 The most shockingly inexplicable is that of Jack Berman, the studious, abstemious son of Holocaust survivors who fulfills his parents’ dreams by becoming a successful lawyer — and, at age 36, is gunned down by a random madman who hates lawyers. Evan Thomas, Washington Post, "An unsettling portrait of four privileged classmates who met untimely deaths," 25 July 2019 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

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.

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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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Last Updated

12 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abstemious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abstemious. Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for abstemious


How to pronounce abstemious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of abstemious

formal : not eating and drinking too much

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