[ kon-tn-uh ns ]
/ ˈkɒn tn əns /


self-restraint or abstinence, especially in regard to sexual activity; temperance; moderation.
Physiology. the ability to voluntarily control urinary and fecal discharge.

Nearby words

  1. conti,
  2. contiguity,
  3. contiguous,
  4. contiguously,
  5. contin.,
  6. continent,
  7. continental,
  8. continental army,
  9. continental breakfast,
  10. continental celtic

Also con·ti·nen·cy.

Origin of continence

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Latin word continentia. See continent, -ence

Related formsnon·con·ti·nence, nounnon·con·ti·nen·cy, nounun·con·ti·nence, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for continence

Word Origin and History for continence



late 14c., "self-restraint," from Old French continence (14c.), from Latin continentia "a holding back, repression," from continent-, present participle stem of continere (see continent). Especially of sexual desire from late 14c.; of the body's eliminatory functions, from 1915. Related: Continency.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for continence


[ kŏntə-nəns ]


Self-restraint; moderation.
Voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge.
Partial or complete abstention from sexual activity.
Related formsconti•nent adj.

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