- 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: Middle English absteinen ; from Old French abstenir ; from Classical Latin abstinere, to hold back ; from ab(s)-, from plush tenere, to hold: see tenant
- abstainer noun
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
intransitive verb ab·stained, ab·stain·ing, ab·stains
- To refrain from something by one's own choice: abstain from traditional political rhetoric. See Synonyms at refrain1.
- To refrain from voting: Forty senators voted in favor of the bill, 45 voted against it, and 15 abstained.
Origin: Middle 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.
- ab·stainˈer noun