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

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 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

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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Statistics for abstemious

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for abstemious

The first known use of abstemious was in 1609

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English Language Learners Definition of abstemious

formal : not eating and drinking too much

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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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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