or ab·sti·nen·cy

[ ab-stuh-nuhns or ab-stuh-nuhn-see ]
/ ˈæb stə nəns or ˈæb stə nən si /


forbearance from any indulgence of appetite, especially from the use of alcoholic beverages: total abstinence.
any self-restraint, self-denial, or forbearance.
Economics. the conserving of current income in order to build up capital or savings.
the state of being without a drug, as alcohol or heroin, on which one is dependent.

Nearby words

  1. abstemious,
  2. abstention,
  3. abstentionism,
  4. abstergent,
  5. abstersive,
  6. abstinence syndrome,
  7. abstinence theory,
  8. abstinent,
  9. abstr.,
  10. abstract

Origin of abstinence

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English word from Latin word abstinentia. See abstain, -ence

Related formsab·sti·nent, adjectiveab·sti·nent·ly, adverbpro·ab·sti·nence, adjective

Can be confusedabstention abstinence

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

Examples from the Web for abstinent

British Dictionary definitions for abstinent


/ (ˈæbstɪnəns) /


the act or practice of refraining from some action or from the use of something, esp alcohol
mainly RC Church the practice of refraining from specific kinds of food or drink, esp from meat, as an act of penance
Derived Formsabstinent, adjective

Word Origin for abstinence

C13: via Old French from Latin abstinentia, from abstinēre to 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 abstinent
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for abstinent


[ ăbstə-nəns ]


The act or practice of refraining from indulgence in an appetite, as for certain foods, drink, alcoholic beverages, drugs, or sex.
Related formsabsti•nent adj.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.