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

  • adj. Eating and drinking in moderation.
  • adj. Characterized by abstinence or moderation: The hermit led an abstemious way of life.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Marked by, or spent in, abstinence; as, an abstemious life.
  • adj. Promotive of abstemiousness.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Abstaining from wine.
  • adj. Sparing in diet; refraining from a free use of food and strong drinks; temperate; abstinent; sparing in the indulgence of the appetite or passions.
  • adj. Sparingly used; used with temperance or moderation.
  • adj. Marked by, or spent in, abstinence.
  • adj. Promotive of abstemiousness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Sparing in diet; moderate in the use of food and drink; temperate; abstinent.
  • Restricted; very moderate and plain; very sparing; spare: opposed to luxurious or rich: as, an abstemious diet.
  • Devoted to or spent in abstemiousness or abstinence: as, an abstemious life.
  • Promoting or favoring abstemiousness; associated with temperance.

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

  • adj. sparing in consumption of especially food and drink
  • adj. marked by temperance in indulgence


From Latin abstēmius : abs-, ab-, away; see ab-1 + *tēmum, liquor, variant of tēmētum.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in 1600. From Latin abstēmius ("abstaining from wine"); from ab, abs ("from") + tēmus, root of tēmētum ("intoxicating drink, mead, wine"), akin to German dämlich ("stupid, silly"), Old Norse thām ("mugginess"), Old Irish tām ("death"), Sanskrit tāmyati ("he becomes stunned, exhausted"). (Wiktionary)



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  • He was upright, singularly abstemious, studious; but he was poor, he was the son of a small farmer, and she was of the gentry.

    Lucia Gilbert Runkle, "Abigail Adams"

    November 12, 2011