Abstention Definition

ăb-stĕnshən, əb-
The act or habit of deliberate self-denial.
American Heritage
The act or an instance of abstaining.
Webster's New World
An abstaining vote or voter.
12 ayes, 10 nays, and 8 abstentions.
American Heritage
The act of voluntarily refraining from taking some action, such as casting a vote or participating in a decision or deliberation.
Webster's New World Law

A federal court’s act of declining to exercise its jurisdiction while awaiting or deferring to a decision by a state court. In doing so, the federal court retains jurisdiction of the legal issues at hand and may decide those issues if the plaintiff is not satisfied with the state court’s decision. See also comity and relinquishment. Several rationales for a federal court’s abstention are named for the United States Supreme Court decision in which the rationale was first applied. These include.

Webster's New World Law

Other Word Forms of Abstention



Origin of Abstention

  • Late Latin abstentiō abstentiōn- from abstentus past participle of Latin abstinēre to hold back abstain

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

  • First attested in 1521. From French abstention, from Late Latin abstēntiō from Latin abstinēō (“withhold, to abstain”)

    From Wiktionary

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