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 \ əb-​ˈsten(t)-​shəs How to pronounce abstention (audio) , ab-​ \ 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 Board of Supervisors’ vote Tuesday was 9-0, with an abstention by Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield). Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2021 Meeting Thursday in Dallas, the 20-member board of directors of the Allied Pilots Association voted 17-2, with one abstention, to endorse a resolution passed on Sept. 7 by its Philadelphia domicile. Ted Reed, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 After the board voted, the result was 12 in favor of removal, four against, one abstention. New York Times, 13 July 2021 The plan received 29 yes votes, with 18 opposed and one abstention. Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune, 11 May 2021 On April 29, the Dusseldorf City Council agreed in a closed session to return the painting to the heirs, with no objections and one abstention: the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD. Toby Axelrod, sun-sentinel.com, 5 May 2021 The vote was 10 in favor, four opposed and one abstention. Maggie Fox, CNN, 23 Apr. 2021 Members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 20-0 with one abstention in favor of the vaccine. CBS News, 18 Dec. 2020 The board eventually approved the opt-out mandate on a 6-0 vote, with one abstention. Corbett Smith, Dallas News, 7 Sep. 2021

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

Time Traveler for abstention

Time Traveler

The first known use of abstention was in 1521

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near abstention

abstemious

abstention

absterge

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for abstention

Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abstention.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abstention. Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!