• synonyms


[kon-tn-uh ns]
See more synonyms for continence on Thesaurus.com
  1. self-restraint or abstinence, especially in regard to sexual activity; temperance; moderation.
  2. Physiology. the ability to voluntarily control urinary and fecal discharge.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for continence

temperance, sobriety, abstinence, abstemiousness, celibacy, forbearance, moderation, virtue, self-control, chastity, asceticism, refraining

Examples from the Web for continence

Historical Examples of continence

  • A woman's virtue is her continence, and a man's virtues are truthfulness and courage.

    Despair's Last Journey

    David Christie Murray

  • This very laudation of continence is itself an emphasis upon sex.

    Visions and Revisions

    John Cowper Powys

  • That continence and celibacy were wrong, as leading to the worst scandals; 3.

  • She bore her husband five children at once and then took a vow of continence.

  • The Method of Continence, with the argument for and against the same.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

continence in Medicine


  1. Self-restraint; moderation.
  2. Voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge.
  3. Partial or complete abstention from sexual activity.
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Related formsconti•nent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.