• synonyms


[kon-tn-uh ns]
  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

Examples from the Web for continency

Historical Examples of continency

  • Ay, but by your own virtue and continency that matter of fact is all his own doing.

    The Comedies of William Congreve

    William Congreve

  • The public morals are insecure till the family is chastely planted, the state guarded by the continency of its male members.


    Amos Bronson Alcott

  • By continency verily are we bound up and brought back into One, whence we were dissipated into many.

  • Verily Thou enjoinest me continency from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of the world.

  • It is difficult to believe that the free men deprived of women were all gifted with the virtue of continency.

Word Origin and History for continency



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

continency 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.