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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 abstained

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The Lower Ranizais, south of Malakand, abstained altogether.

  • He drank three cups of tea, but abstained from food entirely.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act together better?

  • Have we not heard of Iccus of Tarentum and other wrestlers who abstained wholly for a time?

    Laws

    Plato

  • However, we forgave each other, as we had abstained from the chief liberty.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt


British Dictionary definitions for abstained

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 abstained

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