- 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.
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
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 abstin&emacron;re, to hold back : abs-, ab-, away; see ab–1 + ten&emacron;re, 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.