The definition of abstain is choosing to not do something.(verb)
An example of abstain is to not eat animal products during Lent.
Abstain means to not vote.(verb)
An example of abstain would be a senator who chooses not to vote on a particular bill.
See abstain in Webster's New World College Dictionary
Origin: ME absteinen < OFr abstenir < L abstinere, to hold back < ab(s)-, from + tenere, to hold: see tenant
See abstain in American Heritage Dictionary 4
intransitive verb ab·stained, ab·stain·ing, ab·stains
Origin: Middle English absteinen, to avoid
Origin: , from Old French abstenir
Origin: , from Latin abstinēre, to hold back
Origin: : abs-, ab-, away; see ab-1
Origin: + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.
Learn more about abstain