Definition of abstention in English:

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Pronunciation: /əbˈsten(t)SH(ə)n/


1An instance of declining to vote for or against a proposal or motion: a resolution passed by 126 votes to none, with six abstentions
More example sentences
  • A motion passed overwhelmingly with no votes against and two abstentions was proposed jointly by Labour and the Conservatives.
  • A show of hands resulted in 11 people voting to bring back the bells, with one vote against and six abstentions.
  • This time the vote was 120 to 98, with six abstentions.
2The fact or practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something; abstinence: alcohol consumption versus abstention
More example sentences
  • But again, this would only be true if Crusoe's saving - i.e. his abstention from possible present consumption - had been channeled into investment in such tools.
  • The disquieting voices of the few people who doubted that complete abstention was achievable for most problematic consumers were drowned out in a sea of treatment optimism.
  • Existing treatments for alcoholism tend to concentrate either on abstention - sometimes aided by drugs - or the use of aversion therapy, such as drugs that make you ill if you drink.



Pronunciation: /-ˌnizəm/
Example sentences
  • However, the report said abstentionism was not inevitable as 57% of the EU electorate who didn't vote last June said they had voted in the previous national election in their country.
  • Frustration at the narrow-minded ‘electoralism’ of the British political parties has produced a new form of militant abstentionism in the 2001 campaign which we haven't seen before.
  • So, elections will almost certainly be held - amidst continuing and probably escalating violence and amidst a high rate of abstentionism, especially in Sunni areas.


Early 16th century (denoting the act of keeping back or restraining): from late Latin abstentio(n-), from the verb abstinere (see abstain).

Words that rhyme with abstention

apprehension, ascension, attention, circumvention, comprehension, condescension, contention, contravention, convention, declension, detention, dimension, dissension, extension, gentian, hypertension, hypotension, intention, intervention, invention, mention, misapprehension, obtention, pension, prehension, prevention, recension, retention, subvention, supervention, suspension, tension

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ab·sten·tion

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