- to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat.
- to refrain from casting one's vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained.
Origin of abstain
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for abstained
Similarly, Ecuador also abstained, because it felt the resolution “only politicizes the situation.”The U.N. Session on Censuring Syria Brings Out the World’s Thugs
August 11, 2012
In 1978, as Knesset Speaker, he abstained in the vote on the Camp David Accords with Egypt.The Last Revolutionary
July 2, 2012
The Russians, who abstained rather than using their veto, were horrified to see how quickly R2P morphed into regime change.The U.N. Sanctions Intervening to Protect Civilians, So Why Not in Syria?
June 8, 2012
Mitt Romney, who has abstained from the frenzy so far, asks whether the state sales tax will go away; Cain called it an orange.Best Moments From the GOP Debate
The Daily Beast Video
October 19, 2011
Romney, who has abstained from the frenzy so far, asks whether the state sales tax will go away, Cain says it's an orange.GOP Debate Live Updates
October 18, 2011
The Lower Ranizais, south of Malakand, abstained altogether.The Story of the Malakand Field Force
Sir Winston S. Churchill
He drank three cups of tea, but abstained from food entirely.The Secret Agent
But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act together better?The Republic
Have we not heard of Iccus of Tarentum and other wrestlers who abstained wholly for a time?Laws
However, we forgave each other, as we had abstained from the chief liberty.The Memoires of Casanova, Complete
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
- to choose to refrainhe abstained from alcohol
- to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc
Word Origin and History for abstained
late 14c., "to withhold oneself," from Old French abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) "hold (oneself) back, refrain, abstain (from), practice abstinence," from Latin abstinere "withhold, keep back, keep off," from ab(s)- "from, away from" (see ab-) + tenere "to hold" (see tenet). Specifically of liquor, attested from late 14c. Of voting, 1796. Related: Abstained; abstaining.