• synonyms


or ab·sti·nen·cy

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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for abstinent


  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
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Derived Formsabstinent, adjective

Word Origin

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


late 14c., from Old French abstinent (earlier astenant) "moderate, abstemious, modest," from Latin abstinentem (nominative abstinens), present participle of abstinere (see abstinence).

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mid-14c., "forbearance in indulgence of the appetites," from Old French abstinence (earlier astenance), from Latin abstinentia, noun of quality from abstinentem (nominative abstinens), present participle of abstinere (see abstain). Specifically of sexual appetites from mid-14c., but also in Middle English of food, fighting, luxury.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

abstinent in Medicine


  1. The act or practice of refraining from indulgence in an appetite, as for certain foods, drink, alcoholic beverages, drugs, or sex.
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Related formsabsti•nent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.