Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To keep oneself from doing, engaging in, or partaking of something; refrain.
  • intransitive verb To refrain from voting.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To forbear or refrain voluntarily, especially from what gratifies the passions or appetites: used with from: as, to abstain from the use of ardent spirits; to abstain from luxuries.
  • To hinder; obstruct; debar; cause to keep away from: as, “abstain men from marrying,” Milton.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To hinder; to withhold.
  • intransitive verb To hold one's self aloof; to forbear or refrain voluntarily, and especially from an indulgence of the passions or appetites; -- with from.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb choose not to consume
  • verb refrain from voting

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English absteinen, to avoid, from Old French abstenir, from Latin abstinēre, to hold back : abs-, ab-, away; see ab– + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

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