[ ab-sten-shuh n ]
/ æbˈstɛn ʃən /


an act or instance of abstaining.
withholding of a vote.

Origin of abstention

1515–25; < Late Latin abstentiōn- (stem of abstentiō), equivalent to Latin abstent(us), past participle of abstinēre to abstain + -iōn- -ion

Related forms

ab·sten·tious, adjectivenon·ab·sten·tion, nounun·ab·sten·tious, adjective

Can be confused

abstention abstinence
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for abstention

British Dictionary definitions for abstention


/ (əbˈstɛnʃən) /


a voluntary decision not to act; the act of refraining or abstaining
the act of withholding one's vote

Derived Forms

abstentious, adjective

Word Origin for abstention

C16: from Late Latin abstentiōn-, from Latin abstinēre. See abstain
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