Definition of abstain in English:

abstain

Line breaks: ab|stain
Pronunciation: /əbˈsteɪn
 
/

verb

[no object]
  • 1Restrain oneself from doing or enjoying something: she intends to abstain from sex before marriage
    More example sentences
    • Medieval monastics sought to abstain from enjoying daily life, lest they prefer it to God.
    • In earlier ages, Christians sought to purify themselves by abstaining from enjoyment, lest they enjoy material pleasure more than they enjoy God.
    • To forgo the leisured lifestyle, to abstain from epicurean pleasures of over-indulgence, is no mean task.
  • 1.1Refrain from drinking alcohol: most pregnant women abstain or drink very little
    More example sentences
    • All except two of the witnesses had abstained from drinking alcohol on the night of the attack, compared to the defendants, who it was clear had all ‘drunk far too much’.
    • The fully recovered individuals show symptoms of neither alcohol dependence nor alcohol abuse and either abstain or drink at levels below those known to increase relapse risk.
    • People who drank white wine in moderation had better lung function than people who abstained or drank other alcoholic beverages, according to a study in Pulmonary Medicine last year.
    Synonyms
    refrain, desist, hold back, forbear, keep; renounce, avoid, shun, eschew, abandon, abjure, forgo, go without, do without; refuse, decline; give up, have done with
    informal cut out, kick, quit, jack in, pack in
    be teetotal, be a teetotaller, take the pledge; deny oneself
    informal be on the wagon
  • 2Formally decline to vote either for or against a proposal or motion: forty-one voted with the Opposition, and some sixty more abstained
    More example sentences
    • Given little notice, the council still voted on the issue, resulting in a vote of eight people in favour of overturning the disclaimer; no one disagreed with the motion and three abstained from voting.
    • In Monday's votes, Labor legislators abstained, allowing the motions to be defeated.
    • One has to wonder if the workers, many of whom had given their all to the construction of the temple, were taken back by the news of the proposed sale and perhaps abstained from voting.
    Synonyms
    not vote, decline/refuse to vote
    informal sit on the fence

Derivatives

abstainer

noun
More example sentences
  • The Electoral Commission's postmortem examination into the 17 million abstainers found that they complained of a campaign ‘at best lacklustre and at worst negative in tone and too stage-managed’ - the money had made it worse.
  • The government sent 30,000 troops and 20,000 police officers into the Altiplano region, home to many of the Indigenous peasants who were crucial to last October's rebellion, in a clear attempt to intimidate potential abstainers.
  • In thousands of middle-aged Danish men with high cholesterol, moderate drinkers had 50 percent less risk of developing heart disease from blocked arteries than abstainers.

Origin

late Middle English: from Old French abstenir, from Latin abstinere, from ab- 'from' + tenere 'hold'.

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