- 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 abstaining
I told her I was up for it and prepared by abstaining from alcohol, coffee, red meat, and sex for two days prior to the ceremony.Spirit Tripping With Colombian Shamans
August 24, 2014
The largely symbolic document was approved by 123 member states, with 13 voting against and 46 abstaining.For Bashar Al-Assad, Crossing Obama's Red Line Was a Win-Win
November 22, 2013
Belgium has stated it will be voting yes instead of abstaining.How Europe Will Vote And Why
November 28, 2012
And scientists do, indeed, downplay many of the supposed benefits of abstaining from food.The Enlightenment Diet
September 27, 2009
Or would you abstain from using the potion altogether, although you have no reason for abstaining?'Laws
How, then, do they regard your abstaining from calling there?Tony Butler
Charles James Lever
There was much philosophy in abstaining from philosophy overmuch.A History of French Literature
This was what he had gained by abstaining from the sight of her for four weeks.The Faith Doctor
But I am not now abstaining from doing so at the first moment when I asked the question.War and Peace
- to choose to refrainhe abstained from alcohol
- to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc
Word Origin and History for abstaining
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.