Definition of abstention in English:


Syllabification: ab·sten·tion
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.


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



Pronunciation: /-ˌnizəm/
More 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.

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Pronunciation: dɪˈmɒrəlʌɪz
cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope