[ ab-sten-shuh n ]
/ æbˈstɛn ʃən /


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

Nearby words

  1. absorptivity,
  2. absquatulate,
  3. abstain,
  4. abstainer,
  5. abstemious,
  6. abstentionism,
  7. abstergent,
  8. abstersive,
  9. abstinence,
  10. abstinence syndrome

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

Can be confusedabstention 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 Formsabstentious, 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

Word Origin and History for abstention



1520s, from Middle French abstention (Old French astencion), from Late Latin abstentionem (nominative abstentio) "the act of retaining," noun of action from past participle stem of abstinere (see abstain).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper