Abstain Definition

ăb-stān, əb-
abstained, abstaining, abstains
abstained, abstaining, abstains
To hold oneself back; voluntarily do without; refrain (from)
To abstain from smoking.
Webster's New World
To refrain from voting.
Forty senators voted in favor of the bill, 45 voted against it, and 15 abstained.
American Heritage
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) Deliberately refrain from casting one's vote at a meeting where one is present. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.]


Origin of Abstain

  • First attested around 1380. From Middle English abstene, absteine, absteynen, absteinen, abstenen, from Old French astenir, abstenir, from Latin abstineō (“to hold oneself back”) from abs- (“from”) + (tineō (“hold”), from teneō (“I hold”)). See also tenable.

    From Wiktionary

  • Middle English absteinen to avoid from Old French abstenir from Latin abstinēre to hold back abs-, ab- away ab–1 tenēre to hold ten- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition


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