Origin of abstainMiddle English absteinen from Old French abstenir from Classical Latin abstinere, to hold back from ab(s)-, from + tenere, to hold: see tenant
- The definition of abstain is choosing to not do something.
An example of abstain is to not eat animal products during Lent.
- Abstain means to not vote.
An example of abstain would be a senator who chooses not to vote on a particular bill.
intransitive verbab·stained, ab·stain·ing, ab·stains
- To keep oneself from doing, engaging in, or partaking of something; refrain: abstain from partisan political rhetoric; abstain from drinking alcohol.
- To refrain from voting: Forty senators voted in favor of the bill, 45 voted against it, and 15 abstained.
Origin of abstainMiddle English absteinen to avoid from Old French abstenir from Latin abstinēre to hold back abs-, ab- away ; see ab- 1. tenēre to hold ; see ten- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present abstains, present participle abstaining, simple past and past participle abstained)
- (intransitive) Refrain from (something); hold one's self aloof; to forbear or keep from doing, especially an indulgence of the passions or appetites. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]
- (intransitive) Deliberately refrain from casting one's vote at a meeting where one is present. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]
- (keep or withhold oneself): Followed by the word from or of.
- (refrain from something): Followed by the word from.
- During Lent, many religious people decide to abstain from something to focus more clearly on God.
- Next he must abstain from all flesh diet except fish.
- I am trying to abstain from sweets for my new diet.
- Some have added fish to their dietary; but, speaking generally, all who are called vegetarians will be found to abstain from the use of flesh and fowl and almost invariably also from fish as food.
- If you would like to be a safer driver, abstain from using your phone while behind the wheel.