Verb abstain Definition and Examples



Definition as verb:


abstain (third-person singular simple present abstains, present participle abstaining, simple past and past participle abstained)

  1. (transitive, reflexive, obsolete) Keep or withhold oneself. [1]
  2. (intransitive) Refrain from (something); hold one's self aloof; to forbear or keep from doing, especially an indulgence of the passions or appetites. [1]
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) Fast. [1]
  4. (intransitive) Deliberately refrain from casting one's vote at a meeting where one is present. [1]
  5. (transitive, obsolete) Hinder; keep back; withhold. [1]

More definition: hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from), to abstain from eating meat. refrain from casting one's vote, a referendum in which two delegates abstained.

1. to choose to refrain, he abstained from alcohol

2. to refrain from voting, esp in a committee, legislature, etc Derived Formsabstainer, noun Word OriginC14, via Old French from Latin abstinēre, from abs-ab-1 + tenēre to hold, keepCollins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollinsPublishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012 Cite This Source
late 14c., "to withhold oneself," from Old French abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) "hold (oneself) back, refrain, abstain (from), practice abstinence," from Latin abstinere "withhold, keep back, keep off," from ab(s)- "from, away from" (see ab-) + tenere "to hold" (see tenet). Specifically of liquor, attested from late 14c. Of voting, 179

6. Related, Abstained; abstaining.


Austria and Russia supported Augustus III., elector of Saxony, and the empress Anne marched an army into Poland and compelled the election of her candidate, though Russia had bound herself by the treaty of 1711 and again by that of 1720 to abstain from all interference with Poland.

"If all were to follow your example and abstain from politics, the affairs of the world would fall into the hands of wild and lawless barbarians" (viii.

The fact, however, must not be overlooked that while vegetarian societies claim as "vegetarians" all who abstain from flesh foods, there is a large and growing number of people who repudiate the name of "vegetarian" because of its associations, but who none the less, for some of the reasons detailed below, abstain from eating anything that has been killed.

TEETOTALISM, the practice of total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, hence that form of the temperance movement of which the basis is the "pledge" to abstain from all intoxicating liquors (see Temperance).

In 1796, Alexander Kilham, who refused to abstain from agitation for further reform, and accused his brethren of priestcraft, was expelled from their ranks and the New Connexion was formed with 5000 members (see Methodist New Connexion).

Next he must abstain from all flesh diet except fish.

Offered Garibaldi a large sum of money if he would abstain from advancing farther, and 50,000 men to fight the Austrians and the pope; but it was too late, and on the 6th of September the king and queen sailed for Gaeta.

Furthermore, he must abstain all his life from sexual intercourse; he may not take even a blade of grass without permission of the owner; he must not kill even a worm or ant; he must not boast of his perfection.

During this fast they abstain from the gratification of every appetite and passion whatever.

Each man lives for himself, using his freedom to attain his personal aims, and feels with his whole being that he can now do or abstain from doing this or that action; but as soon as he has done it, that action performed at a certain moment in time becomes irrevocable and belongs to history, in which it has not a free but a predestined significance.

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