[ ab-stuh-nuhns ]
See synonyms for: abstinenceabstinent on Thesaurus.com

  1. forbearance, especially habitual forbearance as a lifestyle choice, from any indulgence of a particular appetite, such as from sex or from the use of alcoholic beverages: The program promotes sexual abstinence for teens, but also provides information on contraception in case they become sexually active.

  2. any self-restraint, self-denial, or forbearance.

  1. the act of abstaining for any length of time from a substance or activity to which one has become addicted, but without actually dealing with the root causes of dependency: Abstinence addresses the symptoms of addiction, while sobriety has deeper mental and emotional dimensions.: See also sobriety (def. 3).

  2. the act of abstaining from a particular substance or activity as a spiritual discipline, as during Lent or some other period of religious fasting or self-denial: At one time Lenten abstinence from meat was stricter than it is today.

  3. Economics. the conserving of current income in order to build up capital or savings.

Origin of abstinence

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English word from Latin word abstinentia.See abstain, -ence
  • Also ab·sti·nen·cy [ab-stuh-nuhn-see] /ˈæb stə nən si/ .

Other words for abstinence

Other words from abstinence

  • ab·sti·nent, adjective
  • pro·ab·sti·nence, adjective

Words that may be confused with abstinence

Words Nearby abstinence

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use abstinence in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for abstinence


/ (ˈæbstɪnəns) /

  1. the act or practice of refraining from some action or from the use of something, esp alcohol

  2. mainly RC Church the practice of refraining from specific kinds of food or drink, esp from meat, as an act of penance

Origin of abstinence

C13: via Old French from Latin abstinentia, from abstinēre to abstain

Derived forms of abstinence

  • abstinent, adjective

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