abstention

noun

ab·​sten·​tion əb-ˈsten(t)-shən How to pronounce abstention (audio)
ab-
: 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.
abstentious adjective

Example Sentences

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 Last November, commissioners voted 3-1 with Garcia’s abstention to adopt a map that shifted District 2 to the west. Dallas News, 9 Nov. 2022 Historically, voter turnout has been low for state and municipal elections, with abstention hovering around 70%. The Associated. Press, Arkansas Online, 22 Nov. 2021 If a Pynchonian abstention from public life was, by 1965, pretty much impossible, then Dylan did the next best thing. John Semley, The New Republic, 26 May 2021 But that abstention amounted to approval, according to the Chicago Tribune. Gerry Smith, Bloomberg.com, 21 May 2021 Officials in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, which experienced a shortage of ballot paper on Election Day, failed by a 2-2 vote, with one abstention, to meet a Monday deadline for certification. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez And Isaac Stanley-becker, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Nov. 2022 The Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2022 passed in a 12–0 vote (with one abstention) after multiple attempts to pass similar laws failed in recent years. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 24 Oct. 2022 Following a discussion about hundreds of thousands of dollars already spent on litigation over the complex, the resolution passed with five in favor and one abstention. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, 19 Oct. 2022 The Board of Estimates approved the contract extension Wednesday by a 3 to 1 vote with one abstention, extending the life of the city’s agreement with consulting firm Ernst & Young by six months and doubling the cost of the deal. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 5 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1521, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of abstention was in 1521

Dictionary Entries Near abstention

Cite this Entry

“Abstention.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abstention. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

abstention

noun
ab·​sten·​tion əb-ˈsten-chən How to pronounce abstention (audio)
ab-
: the act or practice of abstaining
especially : a formal refusal to vote
3 ayes, 5 nays, and 2 abstentions

Legal Definition

abstention

noun
ab·​sten·​tion əb-ˈsten-chən How to pronounce abstention (audio)
: 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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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