abstention

noun
ab·​sten·​tion | \ əb-ˈsten(t)-shən How to pronounce abstention (audio) , ab-\

Definition of abstention

: the act or practice of abstaining: such as
a : the act or practice of choosing not to do or have something abstention from drugs and alcohol a long period of abstention [=abstinence]
b : a formal refusal to vote on something There were 10 ayes, 6 nays, and 2 abstentions.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from abstention

abstentious \ -​shəs How to pronounce abstentious (audio) \ adjective

Examples of abstention in a Sentence

There were 10 ayes, 6 nays, and 2 abstentions when the vote was taken. a high rate of voter abstention

Recent Examples on the Web

The Human Rights Council, in a measure brought by Western countries, voted 21-8 with 18 abstentions. Jamey Keaten, Fox News, "UN rights body renews experts' probe of Yemen crimes," 28 Sep. 2018 The resolution passed by a wide margin of 156 votes to six against and 12 abstentions. Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ, "U.S. Resolution Against Hamas Is Defeated in the United Nations," 6 Dec. 2018 That risk wasn’t lost on Spiegelhalter, who went on to say: Given the pleasure presumably associated with moderate drinking, claiming there is no ‘safe’ level does not seem an argument for abstention. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "There’s no risk-free amount of alcohol, population-level study finds," 27 Aug. 2018 If the abstentions were counted into the final tally, there would have been a total 693 votes, so the 448 in favor wouldn't have reached two-thirds. Fox News, "EU lawmakers move against Hungary over rule of law," 12 Sep. 2018 There were 24 affirmative votes cast, four abstentions and no negative votes. Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, "Amid rising pressure on USC president, faculty leaders vote to ask for his resignation," 24 May 2018 The council action, on an 8-0 vote with five abstentions, capped a turbulent period at City Hall, where gay activists and fundamentalist Christian groups staged rallies and protests. Bill Turque, kansascity, "Michael D. Bates, KC human rights stalwart, dies at 70," 3 July 2018 That makes abstention or avoidance all but impossible, Saxon said. Melissa Healy, ajc, "World Health Organization says video game addiction is a disease," 20 June 2018 The result of the mandatory vote Wednesday among lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies on Premier Giuseppe Conte's coalition was 350-236, with 35 abstentions. Fox News, "Italy's new populist government wins 2nd confidence vote," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abstention.' 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 abstention

1521, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for abstention

borrowed from Late Latin abstentiōn-, abstentiō, from Latin absten-, variant stem of abstinēre "to abstain" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about abstention

Share abstention

Statistics for abstention

Last Updated

24 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abstention

The first known use of abstention was in 1521

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for abstention

abstention

noun
ab·​sten·​tion | \ əb-ˈsten-chən How to pronounce abstention (audio) \

Legal Definition of abstention

: the staying of the exercise of federal jurisdiction in a case that involves a question of state law or policy which the federal court prefers to have resolved by a state court or agency also : the staying of the exercise of federal jurisdiction in a case that involves a proceeding in a court of military justice
Burford abstention \ ˈbər-​fərd-​ \
: an abstention grounded on the involvement in the federal case of a challenge to the exercise of a usually complex state administrative function
Colorado River abstention \ ˌkä-​lə-​ˈra-​dō-​, -​ˈrä-​ \
: an abstention grounded especially on the involvement in the federal case of questions of state concern that are also at issue in a parallel case in state court
Pullman abstention \ ˈpu̇l-​mən-​ \
: an abstention grounded on the involvement in the federal case of the interpretation of an ambiguously worded state law whose constitutionality would have to be determined by the federal court

Note: A party to a case subjected to a Pullman abstention may reserve the right to return to federal court once the state court has resolved the state law question. Pullman abstentions are the most common type of abstention.

Thibodaux abstention \ ˌtē-​bə-​ˈdō-​ \
: an abstention grounded on the involvement in the federal case of an issue that greatly affects and concerns a state
Younger abstention \ ˈyəŋ-​gər-​ \
: an abstention grounded on the plaintiff's invocation of federal jurisdiction for the purpose of restraining an ongoing usually criminal state proceeding that has been brought in good faith and not for harassment

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on abstention

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abstention

Spanish Central: Translation of abstention

Nglish: Translation of abstention for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abstention for Arabic Speakers

Comments on abstention

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

WORD OF THE DAY

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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