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.
- non·ab·stain·ing, adjective
- o·ver·ab·stain, verb (used without object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use abstain in a sentence
A number of countries signed on to the agreement, but many others—including the United States—abstained.We’ve barely made a dent in vaccinating the world against COVID-19 | Kat Eschner | February 18, 2021 | Popular-Science
Asexuality is not simply the behavior of abstaining from sex, but an orientation.
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 | Andrew Roberts | August 11, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
In 1978, as Knesset Speaker, he abstained in the vote on the Camp David Accords with Egypt.
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? | Lindsey Hilsum | June 8, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
Mitt Romney, who has abstained from the frenzy so far, asks whether the state sales tax will go away; Cain called it an orange.
Romney, who has abstained from the frenzy so far, asks whether the state sales tax will go away, Cain says it's an orange.
It may be that gasolene and repairs cost more than a railroad fare once a week, but I have abstained from making a comparison.Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
In foreign affairs the house, in its immense majority, abstained from even the faintest attempt at interference.Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 4 of 8 | Various
Though parliament had frequently imposed port-duties on the colonies, it had abstained from imposing taxes within them.The Political History of England - Vol. X. | William Hunt
Under the influence of this conviction, he abstained, for an unusual period, from visiting the Black Fort.Peveril of the Peak | Sir Walter Scott
Reader, this was a question which I most carefully abstained from asking myself.Frank Fairlegh | Frank E. Smedley
British Dictionary definitions for abstain
to choose to refrain: he abstained from alcohol
to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc
- abstainer, noun
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