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abstain

[ab-steyn]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat.
  2. to refrain from casting one's vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained.
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Origin of abstain

1350–1400; Middle English abste(i)nen < Middle French abstenirLatin abstinēre, equivalent to abs- abs- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre to hold, keep
Related formsnon·ab·stain·ing, adjectiveo·ver·ab·stain, verb (used without object)

Synonyms

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1. forbear; desist, cease.

Antonyms

1. indulge.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for abstain

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Merely to abstain from definition was like a load taken off my mind.

  • I told him that he might abstain in future from such a mockery of love.

  • Then we must abstain from spoiling the dead or hindering their burial?

  • I do not include Socrates, who is able either to drink or to abstain, and will not mind, whichever we do.

  • Or would you abstain from using the potion altogether, although you have no reason for abstaining?'

    Laws

    Plato


British Dictionary definitions for abstain

abstain

verb (intr usually foll by from)
  1. to choose to refrainhe abstained from alcohol
  2. to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc
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Derived Formsabstainer, noun

Word Origin

C14: via Old French from Latin abstinēre, from abs- ab- 1 + tenēre to hold, keep
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abstain

v.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper